The Genealogy of Johann Karl Heuchert                    
Die Genealogie von Johann Karl Heuchert
Memoirs (in English)
      Ubi Bene Ubi Casa 

                                    (Home is where life is good) 
                                                Chapter I 


Status: June 2016

The Story of my life, by Johann Karl Heuchert (Calling Name: Hans) (1938-to who knows when)



Preamble:

My life was very good indeed. Being born in beautiful, sunny Alexandria, Egypt in 1938, I missed the terrible ravages of World War II. My family left Alexandria in 1951 and I arrived in Germany only when I was about 13 years of age. I got a good education as a toolmaker in Ober-Esslingen am Neckar, which is near Stuttgart, Southern Germany. In 1957 I served for 18 months in the new Bundeswehr (Federal German Armed Forces). Also there I had a good time. In 1960 I emigrated to Australia where I found a good job in Sydney and the love of my life, my wife Sonja. We returned to Hamburg, Germany in 1965. There I attended a technical school and graduated as a “Technician” in mechanical engineering. In 1968 we had a healthy baby, our son Mark. The next year we emigrated to Green Bay, WI, because I had landed a challenging position as an application engineer with FMC Corporation. Again, we had a good life in Green Bay, WI. In 1994 we “escaped” from Wisconsin and moved to the Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, where I am writing these memoirs, again having a good time doing so.

 
Timeline:

7/26/1938      Born in Alexandria, Egypt (Africa)
1942-1949     German School of St. Borromäerinen in Alexandria
1949-1951     Istituto Don Bosco of Alexandria, Egypt
Dec. 1951      Emigration to Esslingen am Neckar, West Germany
!952-1956      Apprenticeship as toolmaker at Delmag in Oberesslingen
Worked at      Delmag in the R & D Dept.
1957-1958     18 months Military Service (Bundeswehr)
1959-1960     Worked at Robert Bosch AG in Stuttgart in the R & D Dept.
1961             Emigrated to Sidney, Australia
12/30/1961    Married Sonja Kalinowski in Sydney
1965             Return to Germany (Hamburg, Sonja’s home town)
1966             Graduation from a Technical School of Hamburg
1966-1969     Worked at Pagendarm KG of Hamburg
12/13/1968    Mark, our only son was born in Hamburg
1969             Emigration to Green Bay, WI, USA
1969-1976     Worked at FMC Corp. as application engineer
1976-1977     Self-employed. Founded Convex Corporation in Green Bay, WI
1978 Sold     Convex and founded Perini America, Inc. in Green Bay, WI
1978-1993    Worked for Perini America, Inc as CEO
1993            Left Perini America. Founded AapexX Corporation in Green Bay, WI
1994            Moved to the Hot Springs Village, AR
1999-2001    Mark Heuchert joined AapexX and moved to the Village
2001           AapexX was terminated. Mark worked for PCMC Corp. of Green Bay, WI
2002-2003   I Worked for PCMC-Germany in Ettlingen as General Manager
2004 to         Present Retired...and loving it!

        
           Photos of Alexandria: Alexander the Great, Beach Front, Catholic Church


Alexandria, Egypt 

My First recollection: Blackout!!!

I was around 4 years of age. We were in our 4th floor apartment in the “Daira Sef El Din” on the Sharagh (Street) Rassafa in Moharram Bey, a suburb of Alexandria: The lights were all turned off. It was one of many “black-outs”. The British search lights were beaming through the night sky looking for those darn German air planes. The Luftwaffe fighters, very likely Stukas were attacking Alexandria (Egypt), a very important seaport for the British Mediterranean Navy fleet. These were the last efforts in 1942 of the German Luftwaffe to support Field Marshall Rommel, the “Desert Fox”. His North African troops were in El Alamein used, only some 70 Km from Alexandria. My father, Fritz (Friedrich Wilhelm Heuchert), firmly grabbed my upper left arm and half dragged me and half carried me in a real hurry to our apartment’s door. He yelled at me loudly, to emphasize the importance of his command, to
hurry down the 4 flights of stairs to the basement. My mother was already halfway down urging my sisters Mary and Traudl to run to the safety of the “bunker”, which really was just the basement which our father had turned into a bomb shelter. My big brother Fritz, already an athlete at 11 years of age, was already down there. He was the fastest during these frequent air raids because two years earlier, on June 6th 1940 he lived through a bombardment where a Messerschmitt erred and dropped a huge bomb, also called an “air torpedo”, onto the apartment building in Sharagh Nizan, near the Sharagh Menasha where we used to live. The tall apartment complex was completely destroyed.
I was only 2 years old then and do not remember anything of that deadly blast. But my poor brother was less fortunate. He got a tremendous shock because that whole 4-story high building collapsed on top of us. We all survived this horrific attack because our wise dad had turned the basement into a bomb shelter with bunks, water, candles, blankets and some non-perishable food-stuffs. We quickly slipped into our bunks and covered ourselves with blankets and pressed the pillows onto our ears so that we could not hear the terribly loud sirens, my mother said. Since the apartment building was destroyed, we evacuated to Cairo where the Luftwaffe was carrying out fewer raids. While in Cairo, my mother told us, we visited an aunt of hers called “Mascheck” who’s husband was an Engineer for the Egyptian King Faruk. That German uncle Mascheck was made a “Bey”, being an aristocrat in Egypt. That arrogant aunt did know about the bombardments in Alexandria but seeing my mother with 4 small kids she did not want to have anything to do with us. So much for “kind” relatives. So we returned to Alexandria and moved to another apartment complex called Daira Salah el Din on Sharagh Rassafa in Moharam Bey. Our dad had also turned the basement of that apartment complex into a bomb shelter.

The POW Internment Camp

We were very fortunate that the British General Montgomery in mid-1942 drove the Nord Afrika Korps out of El Alamein, and back into the Libyan Desert where the German and Italian campaign in North Africa ended. The British took many prisoners and interned them in camps. Thus, nearly every Xmas my mother would bake a ton of cookies and packed them into small paper bags. She took us 4 kids along as she took the tramway and/or the train to one of those POW internment camps. My brother Fritz would help to throw those cookie-laden packets over the barbwire fence. The German POW appreciated those cookies very much. My mother kept on asking the POWs if they knew of an Emil Bauer, or a Karl Bauer, her brothers, who were enlisted in the Afrika Korps. Nobody knew or heard of them. But one day a British soldier came out of the fenced compound and arrested my little, 5’ 2” (157 cm) tall mother, along with us 4 kids of 11, 9, 6 and 4 years of age. He proudly, and a bit rough, paraded us to the office of the camp commander. That captain looked fully astounded at that small, overweight lady and her 4 little siblings. His astonishment changed into anger as he looked at the soldier who brought us in. He got up and asked in a loud voice what the heck the soldier had in mind? The soldier was very confused. He stuttered that he caught us red-handed as we were throwing paper bags over the fence to the prisoners. The officer smiled at us and apologized by saying that the soldier was only doing his duty. In my mom’s broken English she explained that she only wanted to slightly improve the POW”s lot with some Holiday cookies. Besides, she was looking for her two brothers who might have been in the camp. The British officer dismissed us politely. Well, we never found our uncles. Later we found out that uncle Karl was indeed a POW but he was sent to a farmer in Iowa, USA. Uncle Emil was wounded earlier in the war and was sent back to the homeland.
               
I remember that quite a few Egyptians (we called them Arabs) were looking forward to be “liberated” by the Germans from the colonialists, the British. My father told us that the British repeatedly wanted to put him in internment camp because he was “German”. Our father explained to them that he was without any nationality because the area where he was born, Bukowina used to be Austrian. After WWI it became partially Rumanian and partially Ukrainian and he did not accept either nationality. However, what helped him the most was the support of the Jewish owner and the Swiss Director of the textile factory (La Bonneterie) where he worked. Both vouched for him. Later in life he repeatedly told me to stay out of politics. This because he himself stayed out of politics, thus not aligning himself, neither with the Germans (Nazis at that time) nor with the British, the colonialists. Thus, he remained “neutral”. In fact not aligning himself with the colonial might, the British brought him more acceptance by the Egyptians and other middle-easterners because they did not like the colonial might Britain.

The Daira Sef El Din (Our Apartment Complex)

This is the name of the apartment complex where we rented a large, 3 bedroom apartment on the 4th floor. It consisted of 5 buildings, each with its own entrance. Each floor had 2 apartments of various sizes. The roofs were flat and the dwellers could rent additional storage rooms up there on the roof. The roofs were covered with cement tiles and had a concrete balustrade. Many renters also hang their laundry up there to dry in the sun and fresh air. The about 4 feet high balustrade allowed us kids to safely play on the roof. We would use sling shots and pebbles to shoot at each other, from one building to the next, since they were only some 6 meters (20 feet) apart. We also had such a storage room on the roof in which our mother sometimes raised some chicken. We also stored some old books and other “stuff” up there. Thus, that room became a breeding ground for cockroaches, which were widespread in Egypt. Sometimes we would let our chickens into the room and open some of those old, rotting books. The cockroaches would scramble and fly out and the chicken would go crazy trying to catch them. Some neighbors had pigeons on the roof. Raising pigeons is quite a popular hobby in Egypt. I had some pigeons also. But I kept them on our large, L-shaped balcony. One male pigeon I had named “Tarzan”. He was brownish in color and quite big. He liked a white “Austrian” pigeon that could do air-acrobatics. I called her “Jane”. She had a large tail that would allow her to flip over and over again in the air, just before landing. My mother would occasionally slaughter one of those pigeons and cook it up for our dad. As far as I remember we kids never got any pigeons to eat. They were apparently a delicacy reserved for dad. Another popular hobby was the flying of kites in Alexandria. This we did also from the flat roofs of our apartment building. Here we usually had the help of Fritz because he was older, stronger and more agile. Different guys flew their kites from the rooftops and tried to “conquer” somebody else’s kite. Quite often both kites fell onto the ground, 4 floors lower. Sometimes the kite strings broke and the kites flew away and away, getting hung up in some antennas, power lines or similar. Most of the time we built our own kites. We used bamboo that we cut into strips. Then we tied them together with strings to make a hexagonal frame, which we covered with light tissue paper. Some were colored. We glued the tissue to the frame using home-made glue made out of flour. The tails of the kites were a lot of work. They consisted of narrow pieces of paper that were fastened to the tail strings bit by bit. We worked all together to make the prettiest and strongest kite.

Smoking...a No! No! 

One day mum caught me on the roof hidden under a blanket. What was I doing? Smoking some cigarettes which I had stolen from my dad. She pulled me on my ears, gave me a few slaps into my face and told me that if I were ever to do it again she would report me to dad. This was a threat strong enough that I never even thought of doing it again. Yes, our father was very strict and sometimes outright brutal. Once he got us 4 kids to kneel on rice kernels because we had done something bad. I don’t remember what we had done? But my poor brother Fritz got most of our father’s wrath. A few times dad would tie Fritz up onto the polished brass frame of his bed, spread like Jesus Christ on the cross. He would pull out his leather belt from his pants and whip Fritz repeatedly. Fritz was a tough cookie. He never cried. Instead, he would ask in defiance: are you finished? Instead of finishing my father would in rage whip him some more. Well, I was different. Once my dad whipped me behind the closed doors of his master bedroom. I cried as loud as I could. I promised in repeated loud cries to never do it again (whatever I had done???). I cried so loud that my mother came knocking at the door screaming “don’t kill my little boy!” Well, I was the last baby and perhaps the cutest, blond and all...you know? But something we were deadly afraid of was the “trapatchka” (Rumanian?). It was a carpet beater made of very flexible bamboo or cane. Thank goodness my mother did not report us too often to dad, because he could be very severe.
MY brother Fritz got quite a beating once because he had taken dad’s car without permission. Dad, a gambler, was probably in Cairo to a Derby (horse racing) and left the car at home. Fritz took a key that he had duplicated and drove around town with his friends. Very likely the car was over-loaded with plenty of teenagers and bottomed-out. This tore the complete exhaust system off the engine block. So Fritz had put the long exhaust pipe through the window. The next day my father nearly got a heart attack when he saw his car with the exhaust pipe sticking out of the window. He really gave it to poor Fritz that time.

Christmas in Alexandria

Christmas was always very nice in the Daira. Practically every year we had a real Christmas tree. Most came from the mountains of Lebanon. Our mother would decorate the trees real pretty, as it is tradition in good old Germany. She used real candles on those trees. Sometimes those candles would light the tree on fire. Here was my mother, as little as she was, tree in hand running through the apartment with a burning tree and in she went into the shower, fully dressed. We never had a real dangerous fire in the house because of my mom’s quick reaction and resolute shower-taking. For most, if not all, Christmas dinners we had a goose or a turkey. Father would get his loyal mechanic to bring us a live animal about 4 weeks before Christmas. Mum would keep those feathered guys in our shower room and feed them. She would fatten the goose by force-feeding it with white bread soaked in milk. Mum would also slaughter those birds herself. She cooked up a storm and we all enjoyed it very much. Oh yes...eating was always an experience at our house. If we would not take seconds, mum would be disappointed and ask if we did not like what she cooked? Thus, it was standard procedure to take seconds. Mum would say: “Anyone can say it tastes good. Words are cheap. Deeds count.” Another way to get us to eat some more was to tell us that the weather is going to be bad if we do not clean up our plates. And she filled them up generously. No wonder that our whole family, except me, are obese or at least overweight, in which category I also fit with a BMI of 25.2!?! For mum Christmas was also the time for baking cookies. She baked for days, nights and more days and nights. As said above, some cookies were for the POW's but most of them were eaten by us. She had a wooden box of about 2x2x4 feet (60x60x120 cm) which she filled with all kinds of delicious cookies, plus many more smaller boxes. We ate cookies al the way through Easter! She told us that some times while baking during the wee morning hours, our brother Fritz would sleep-walk into the kitchen, count the silver ware and go back to bed. I think he should have become an accountant?
We ate quite well since food was quite inexpensive. But sometimes near the end of the month my mother would be close to running out of money so we got cheap stuff. One of those local foods was “Molocheya”, which usually contained sheep or mutton meat. It smelled bad and looked awfully unappetizing, because it was quite slimy. As a small kid I remember my mother holding me in a karate grip so I could not move and force feeding me that awful, but probably healthy molocheya. Yucky :-( . Often we would eat “fool” for breakfast. Fool is a very typical and popular Mideastern meal made of flava beans. Often we would buy the fool from a street vendor who had a large, heated copper container in which he had cooked the beans overnight. We would lower a basket from our 4th-floor balcony with a bowl in it and the few piasters (Egyptian coin) it cost. (Today’s (2006) value probably a quarter of a Dollar). Some other times we would buy some falafel. These are tasty patties made out of the same flava beans and deep fried in hot vegetable oil. The fool we would sometimes eat prepared with olive oil, salt & Pepper or mixed with scrambled eggs and onions. Sometimes my mother would send me to do some grocery shopping. I would go to the grocer nearby, mostly Arabs, and bargain over the price of the vegetables. In Egypt you bargain about any and everything! The meat my mother would buy herself. The butcher was just around the corner and the carcasses of beef, goats, sheep, chicken, rabbits would be hanging off the ceiling. You could select which cut of meat you wanted. The butcher would also grind the meat for you so you had freshly ground meat of the piece you just selected. Well, there was no refrigeration at those times. So the flies were all over the place. We also had an electrified tramway (street car) station nearby. We used it very often to go to school or into the center of town, which was about half an hour ride away. One day, I guess I was about 8 years old; I wanted to cross the road. I ran around the tramway that had stopped at its usual station. A taxi (Fiat) had passed the tramway on the left, in disregard of the rules. (They were allowed to pass a Tramway on the right only. If the tramway was stopped they had to wait unless there were no passengers going in or out.) That darn Fiat hit me from the side about knee-high. I flew some 10 feet through the air and landed hard on the cobble stoned street. The taxi came to a halt only a foot (30 cm) or so away with screeching brakes, and thus did not run over me. People around the tramway station began to yell and swear loudly at the taxi driver. I think they wanted to lynch him? Somebody picked me up and held me asking me if I was alright? Although I was quite confused, I felt no pain and had just a few scratches and was a bit disoriented. Well, from my point of view I was Superman for just a fraction of a minute, since I flew some 10 feet (3 m) through the air. Very likely I wanted to go across the street to a little bakery that sold “harissa” a honey-sweet flat cake that we kids loved to eat with some Pepsicola.
We played a lot of marbles with the neighbors’ kids, no matter what nationality they were or religion they believed in. But sometimes we would get into a fight, especially with kids from elsewhere. Here I had to scream and yell and ask my brother Fritz to help, which he did in quite a few occasions. He was athletic and some 6 years older than I and thus could easily protect us small kids, when need be. Fritz also had a pellet gun. He would walk up and down our street Rassaffa and shoot sparrows or moaning doves. He would collect them and give them to the poor farmers or the cleaning maids that we sometimes had to help mother with her shores. They appreciated those birds because they probably the only meat they would have, those poor people!

Jacky, our first dog 

I was probably around 6 years old when one day our father came home wearing a leather jacket. We kids were playing on the floor. I looked up and wondered what was different with my dad’s jacket? My sister Mary seems to have been the most alert and shouted loudly “a dog, a dog”. Truly, that was what was looking out of one of the pockets of the leather jacket. We named the dog “Jacky”. She was a mixture of many breeds and very sweet. She grew up to be about the size of an Irish setter. We played with her a lot, except when she had babies. Then, the only one who could approach her basket where she and her puppies were lying was Mum. If we would get near her at that time, she would growl and snap at us to keep us away from her offspring.

Friends and neighbors

My “best” friend in the Daira Sef El Din was an Arab neighbor called Erfan Abdel Ader Beshir. We played a lot together and with his many sisters. I think he had about 4 or 5 of them, who all were a few years older than us. They taught us the facts of life and some anatomy. Sonja and I met Erfan again in 1965 while visiting Alexandria on our way back from Australia.
Another good neighbor we had was the Greek family “Tenedios” consisting of Georgi the father, Marika the mother, Nitsa the daughter (about 2 years younger than I) and Costa who was about 2 years younger than Nitsa. Since we could not speak any Greek we conversed either in Arabic or French. Marika was an excellent cook and we were often invited to eat at her place in the ground floor in the building opposite ours. In their building 2 floors higher lived a Lebanese family who had a daughter of about my age. She was called “Leila”. She was heavenly beautiful and my first love (at about 8???). I adored her. Unfortunately, she fell very ill, lost a lot of weight and then finally died at the tender age of about 10. This was the first time in my life that I felt very sad and deep sorrow. Little Costa sometimes did not want to eat. So Marika would invite me to be an “enticer”. By eating with him I would tempt him to eat along. Marika was a marvelous baker, making all those delicious honey-based cakes with nuts and rum and so on. Sonja and I stayed with Nitsa in 1965 while visiting Egypt on our way from Australia to Hamburg, Germany. At That time Costa had emigrated to Australia. Unfortunately, after that visit we lost contact with both. In 1999, while visiting Greece for a vacation I tried to find Nitsa in Greece, but could not. Her father, Georgi had a side job at home making shoe boxes. Quite often I would help him together with another Georgi, who later became Nitsa’s husband although he was about 25 years older. I did not like that guy at all because he obviously was bisexual, but Nitsa’s father did not mind.

Parks and Beaches of Alexandria

Walking up the Sharagh Rassaffa we could reach in about 30 minutes a beautiful park called El Shallalat. We were often there, playing and climbing trees. When we kept on walking we would walk through an upscale neighborhood full of expensive mansions, villas with palms everywhere and beautifully manicured gardens. After another 30 minutes walking we would reach the “Cornishe”, a Seaside road that travels from the old port of Alexandria all the way to Montasa (some 30 Km) where Faruk had one of his numerous Palaces. Very often we would visit Chatby, a beach where our mother would rent a shack in which we could keep some clothes, chairs, etc. We played a lot on the beach, building sand castles, renting “pennisoirs” a type of hand-made open kayak, and just having fun and enjoying life. This at a time where huge areas of Europe were devastated, people hungered and were desperate due to the ramifications of WWII. Another beach we frequented was Mandara. It is quite far outside the city and we had to take the bus or even the train. Around 1950 my parents rented a real cottage in Mandara. There I had a real problem with which I was fighting already for many years: bed wetting. My mother had heard from the local medicine women that burning the skin with a red hot, large nail would solve the problem. So she took a 6” (15 cm) long nail, heated it up ‘till it was red hot. At the same time her medicine women (witches?) had tied me down so I could not escape or move too much. Then my mom “branded” me on my legs. I screamed like a wounded coyote. It did not solve my weak bladder. What helped was an overnight stay at our Greek neighbors the Tenedios. Naturally, I did not want to wet myself and their bed, so apparently this fear of exposure triggered some psychological signal in my brain and since then the bed-wetting was overcome.

Abukir

Quite a few times we went to the beach in Abukir. (Here even our dad was a few times with us, as well as our “French” friends the Samaans. The sand is beautifully white and soft. It was not easy to get there and it was a military zone. But our father bribed a few Arab guards and we could climb the high sand hill on which Napoleon had left many huge canons. We played on and around those canons, which were used to try to halt the advance of Admiral Horatio Nelson who eventually beat the French navy. We were told that the British canons had a longer reach than the French ones. Thus, Nelson landed first on one of the most distant islands of the Bay of Abukir, which were beyond the reach of Napoleon’s canons; setup his powerful, long rage canons and bombarded Napoleon’s position, destroying it and winning the battle.
Another Park we often visited was the “Nouzha” Gardens. Designed by the British it was a huge, beautiful Park.
Our father was rarely with us since he preferred to be with his friends in the Billiard Club of Alexandria. Sometimes we would also be at the billiard club and they showed off their skills. It was amazing to see them play whereby the white ball would start at one table and fly over to the next table and make a “carambolage” by hitting two other balls there. Our father was a few times champion of Alexandria in Billiard. When we kids wanted to go to the cinema, of which we had a brand-new one by MGM in 1948, I would be sent in by my brother and sisters and would have to beg daddy, who was intensively playing billiard (for money) with his friends. He did not want to appear cheap in front of his comrades and always gave me the few piasters we needed. 

The St. Borromäerinnen School 

Although we were Protestants, we 4 kids attended the Catholic German coed School of the St. Borromäerinnen. The certificate says that I visited that school from 1942 to 1949. It was a combination elementary, middle and high school run by catholic nuns. They taught us, right from the first class, and besides other subjects such as mathematics, geography, religion, reading and writing also German, English, French and Arabic. That school was not inexpensive, but thank Goodness our father could afford it and thus my mother insisted on it. The school was about 30 minutes away by tramway or bus. I stayed in that school only 4 years because after my 4th year they decided to revert back to what they once were: a girl’s school. This because I would have been the only boy in a class of some 14 girls (what’s so bad about this???). Around 1946, at the tender age of 8, I was caught with my favorite French school girl, called Jeanette...where? Well, in the school’s toilet. I dragged her in there because I wanted to kiss her and did not want her to be able to escape my romantic approach. We were caught and got quite a scolding. In 1948, my 4th and last class there, I was one of 4 boys. Unfortunately, one boy (Rama from India) was killed in a traffic accident on the Cornishe (Sea-side road). Two other boys, whose names I forgot, were Italians and had emigrated to Brazil. The 4th boy was a Lebanese and returned to Beirut. (Perhaps because 1948 was the year of Israel’s founding by the United Nations, influenced very strongly by the British). My two sisters, Mary and Traudl and my brother Fritz also attended this school, but for a much longer time than I did.
Our mother told us that she wanted to baptize my brother using the name “Fritz”. But she was not allowed to do so by the pastor of the only German Protestant Church in Alexandria. That pastor said that Fritz is not a German name. He has to be called “Friedrich” like many German Kaiser were named. Thus, my brother Fritz is officially Friedrich. The same dilemma, with the same conservative pastor, occurred to Traudl, she became Gertraude, Mary became Marie and I became Johann (instead of Hans).

Egypt declares War to Israel

During that 1948 year Egypt declared their first war against Israel! Our father was explaining how terrible that war was. The Israelis were equipped with the latest British and American made weaponry, were extremely motivated and thus won easily, even though they were outnumbered at least by 1:10. The Egyptians were equipped with WWI arms that functioned badly, if at all. The Egyptian armed forces were not well trained and not motivated at all and thus lost badly. It was later reported that the corrupt King Faruk and his Egyptian aristocracy (Beys and Pashas) had bought antique and outdated weapons but charged the price for new arms. They sent their huge profits to their numbered accounts in Switzerland.
After that 1948 war any European (Caucasian) was regarded as an enemy of Egypt. Many Jews are European. The British are European and were very much hated as a colonial power, occupying Egypt for over a century and supporting Israel to become a state in a Palestinian territory. Therefore, for the Arabs anybody who looked like a Jew or a British was an enemy. They regarded us as enemies because of our Caucasian looks. Our advantage was that we spoke Arabic, and the Alexandrian dialect, like the locals, with accent and fluently. Interestingly, they even appreciated it when we told them, or in panik yelled at them, that we are Germans, saying “ana Almani”. They liked the Germans because they remembered that the Germans tried to beat the British in WWII, and in a satanically obscene way they liked it that the Nazis (Germans) killed so many Jews during the Third Reich. During the ensuing years tensions in Egypt grew exponentially. They had many riots in which the British tried to establish order. The Egyptian Army started to fight against the Egyptian Navy and so did the air force, and vice versa. The chaos was growing. In some of those riots the Arabs had captures young British soldiers, decapitated them and played soccer with their heads. During those years my sisters started to have male friends with Arab schoolmates or neighbors. Our mom was vehemently opposed to any serious relationship here. She had bad experiences with female friends of mixed marriages where the husband was Egyptian and the wife was French, Swiss or German. The Arabs beat and in general mistreated their wives. Mum wanted to leave Egypt. Obviously, pretty much all Jews left the country. More and more Europeans left. Our father was hesitant. He had a good job, was some 35 years in the country and was not sure where life would be any better. He talked to a German who left for Brazil. But that guy never wrote back after leaving. The same thing happened with an Italian who left for the Lebanon. My parents wrote to their relatives in Germany. Mum’s relatives were in the Munich area and did not have any good ideas. Well, they were recovering from WWII, which was no easy task. Dad’s relatives were in Esslingen am Neckar, near Stuttgart. They had gotten there after an Odyssey from Bukowina, Ukraine to Czechoslovakia. Our uncle Hans claimed that all is well in Esslingen and we should come.

The Istituto Don Bosco of Alexandria, Egypt (99, Via 10 Khedive)

Since I could not attend the German school my father stuck me from 15.September 1949 to 31. October 1951 into the Istituto Don Bosco run by Catholic monks. Why? Well, my brother Fritz was there already for a few years and it was a very respected, technical school. However, I was only 11 years old and a short guy. But who am I to argue? So I had to improve my Italian language skills. Part of the curriculum was to learn to work metals such as steel, aluminum, brass, and the like. I had to learn to file, I remember. The vice in which the catholic monks had put a piece of angle iron was at the heights of my chin. So, quickly they brought me a wooden, 20 cm (8”) high crate to stand on. What was I supposed to do? File down the 50 x 50 mm (2” x 2”) angle iron into a flat, said the monk with a grim face. Occasionally my big brother Fritz would look after me to see that I do not get lost under the work bench. After a couple of weeks I had filed the angle iron into a flat piece. I was proud. Now the next challenge: Take a 50 mm (2”) U-iron and chisel the two uprights away and file it into a flat piece. Wow did my knuckles hurt! I chiseled away as if I wanted to escape from a penitentiary. While chiseling I would miss the chisel occasionally and bang onto my index knuckle: Ouch...!@!?@&!! But that is the way to learn. In the morning, before any school or work, we had to line up and pray in Latin...in nominus del padre...ave maria, mater Dei...ora pronobis pecatoribus...Amen. It lasted about 10 to 12 minutes. Besides learning practical crafts we also learned metallurgy, astronomy, mathematics, geography, Italian language and catholic religion. (Good for a Protestant)
Languages came easy to us because where we lived we had neighbors who were Egyptians (Arabs), Arabic Jews, Greeks, Lebanese, Syrians, French, East-Indians, Italians. The street language was Arabic naturally since it was the native language. Interestingly, the English language was not being used that much. French was the language of choice since it gave one a sense of sophistication. Quite often my mother would talk German to us and we would respond in Arabic.

La Bonneterie

My father, Friedrich Wilhelm Heuchert (Fritz) worked from approximately 1934 until our departure in 1951 at the textile factory called “ La Bonneterie”. He started as a mechanic and ended up being the technical director for the last 10 years of his career there. That plant was about 15 minutes by foot from our apartment complex. One had to cross the Mahmoudeya Channel who connects Alexandria to the Nile. Usually it was a Bedouine that pushed the 6 m (20 feet) long barge across the canal using a long wooden pole. La Bonneterie manufactured flannel using the famous, Egyptian “Maco” cotton. They produced underwear, socks and during our last years there (1951) also Nylon stockings. They had some 400 round weaving machines, most from Germany, Switzerland and some from England. These machines had 100s of needles, many cams, levers, chains and other mechanical gadgets. These wore out regularly and thus needed replacement. That is why a good mechanic is needed for their maintenance. This, our father was: a good mechanic and a strong leader. He told me that sometimes he was frutrated to the hilt. This because he wanted to teach the new mechanics how to do things properly, and do it so the first time. The Arabs did not have a natural mechanical ability. Some of them did not even know what “left” and “right” was, said my dad. I guess if you are a farmer (Fellahi or Saidi) and you only have worked with primitive hand tools like the ancient Egyptians, how could you have developed an aptitude for mechanical equipment? He has trained quite a few Arabs to become good mechanics. Once for Christmas he got one guy to build a pedal-operated car for my brother Fritz who must have been some 6 years old then. I inherited that vehicle later, when it became too small for my big brother who is 6 year older than I. Part of the mechanics’’ training was the repairing of my dad’s old motorcycles. So you can see us on various motorcycles like the Indian, Harley Davidson, Triumph, Norton, etc. After being repaired, our dad would then sell those bikes for a handsome profit.
The Mahmoudia channel was extremely polluted. The water was always beige to brown and often bloated, dead animals floated past. Often the Fellahis (peasants) would wash their vegetables in the Channel. Brushing away the stool of another guy who was doing his (poop-) business just a few yards further upstream. One year we had an outbreak of Cholera. We all got inoculated, like practically every year. But the epidemic that time was so bad that the British issued an ordinance that no water was to be taken from the Mahmoudia Channel and no vegetables were to be washed in it. They must have discovered that it was the source of the Cholera virus. It became so acute that the British issued a shoot-to-kill order. Still some Fellahi and Saidi were shot to death because they did not honor that order, my father told us.
Occasionally I would visit dad in the Bonneterie. It was then when I noticed most his chain-smoking. He had yellow finger tips because he was smoking the cigarettes to the last little bit and thus the smoke, heat and nicotine discolored his finger tips. This obsessive smoking gave him also the well-known smokers’ cough. Invariably, every morning we would hear him cough and cough and cough. He gave up smoking only after his second stroke late in life. He was the true chain-smoker. He lit the next cigarette with the one that he just finished smoking. Thus, he smoked continuously, all day long. He liked to smoke the strong cigarettes like the French Gaulouase and the British Sailor.

Fritz (Dad) the Gambler

As said, our father Fritz was a hard worker. But he also was a passionate gambler. Not quite compulsive, but nevertheless a gambler. However, he always looked after us and never neglected us, despite his gaming weakness. It was said that in 1950 he earned some 45 Egyptian Pounds per month and gave my mother 15 Pounds to cover all expenses, including school costs. The rest he kept and spent.
During the years where my father would come back from Cairo where he had attended the big horse races---and he had won---he would appear with a car. Occasionally we owned an “Adler”, another time a “Hillman” and so on. Quite often the trunk of the car was full of European delicacies, which were either very difficult or possibly impossible to get during those post WWII times.
In years where he had lost, he came home with a motorbike instead of the car because he had traded it in to pay his betting debts. During those obscure occasions we kids had to be very quite and extremely obedient because our father’s mood was very gloomy.
We did not see much of our father. He worked a lot but also he went often to the Billiard Club in downtown Alexandria. He had many friends there. On one or two occasions he became the Champion of the Club! Quite a few times I went into the Club because we kids wanted to go to the movies and needed money. I was that cute little boy of some 8-12 years, with blond hair and an innocent look. As far as I remember, our father never refused to give me the few Piaster needed for all of us to go the movies. We had a very nice, marble-clad cinema called the MGM Theater. Well. He was standing there near his friends and could not be disgraceful by saying “NO! Naturally, he always played for money, or at least most of the time. He told me once that during the “Great Depression” of the 1930’s he was unemployed and survived for two years by playing poker. He also taught us to play poker. Usually for New Years Eve we had a family gathering and were allowed to play poker late into the wee-hours of the morning.

The Exodus from Egypt in 1951

This is not the story of Moses, it is the story of the Fritz Heuchert family. The situation in Egypt became untenable and very unsafe. During some of those riots we could not go to school (hurray!). Other times, our father’s loyal, Egyptian mechanics would accompany us to school, taking safer routes through the city. We would hear rifle shots in the distance and sometimes even machine gun fire and mortars. During one of our many return trips from school we heard loud voices yelling “they are coming, they are coming”. Our escort urged us to move fast and not to look back. Cars and trucks were crisscrossing the streets. We crossed the road at an intersection. A big army truck swayed in front of us and got out of control. Probably the driver was shot dead or at least he was seriously injured. We ran like hell into a nearby grocery store that was full of bags of beans, rice, lentils, salt and other stuff. Our escort yelled frantically “jump”, which we did and hurled ourselves over the bags and into the interior of the store. The truck came crashing after us slipping and sliding in large sways. He banged against some utility and light poles and came to a screeching halt. Shots were still being fire, real near. Again the escort yelled ”let’s get out of here”. He helped us get up and as we ran out of the store I looked to the side of the truck and saw a little boy of some 6 years of age who was run over by the army truck. He was instantly dead because the rear wheels of the truck were on top of his head and his brain had popped out and laid about 2 m ( 6 feet) away from him. I cried, I ran and I cried. The escort was all nervous and upset. He yelled at me saying that he had told us not to look back. To this day I sometimes still see that awful, tragic picture. But thank Goodness this was one of very few real bad experiences I had in my life.
Finally in 1951 our father agreed to leave Egypt. Matters were so bad in the meantime that that decision was easy for a simple reason: survival. Egyptians would call us pigs, swines, stupid donkeys, etc. on the road. They would spit into our face (yuck). They would fondle or masturbate on my mother and my sisters whilst in the tramway. What broke the camel’s back was the assassination of a director of another factory near to the one where dad worked. The poor guy, a Swiss, was murdered, cut to pieces and put into a burlap sack, which they put at the front door of his house. Apparently his wife went berserk when she discovered the content of that bag.
Our father then organized a set of false German passports for the whole family. The Jewish owner of the Bonneterie had sold the factory for peanuts but was kind enough to give dad a nice “pension”, which dad never expected. His Swiss company manager was also leaving. Pretty much all our European friends had left Egypt by the time we departed in December 1951. The only exception was our Greek neighbors the Tenedios. Also our very good friends, the Samaan family emigrated to France including Fritz’s good friend Louis and my secret love Cathie. The Samaans were an interesting family. The father, George I think was his name, was a Syrian orphan who had grown up in a french orphanage. Well, Syria used to be a French colony. In the orphanage he met his wife whom we called “Madame Samaan”. They had three children, Louis, the oldest and a friend of Fritz to this day, Tere´se, who was a bit retarded and had a surprisingly small head, and Cathie, the youngest. We saw them often since Madame Samaan and our mother would often come together for an afternoon coffee, where my mother would read the future looking into the cups of mocha coffee. One day they left Cathie and me alone to play in our bedroom. We must have been 5 or 6 years young then. They caught us playing “you show me yours and I show you mine”. They laughed at us and told us not to do that.

In December 1951 our family emigrated to Germany.

See Chapter II
 


 
     Ubi Bene Ubi Casa 
                                        (Home is where life is good) 
                                                Chapter II 

Exodus to Germany 

This is not the Exodus of the Israelis from ancient Egypt. It is the emigration of the Friedrich Wilhelm (Fritz) Heuchert family to Germany. Finally, our father agreed to leave Egypt and emigrate to Germany where many of his brothers and sisters ended up to be after WWII. My sister Traudl was sent some 6 months ahead of us to join up with our uncles Hans and Lolo in Esslingen, Germany. Our parents had finally decided to emigrate to Germany because all the other options were not as enticing. Uncle Hans apparently had written that everything was great in Germany and that we will feel very much at home there. Well, we had German ancestors, spoke fluently German and actually felt as being Germans. Perhaps our genes did that to us? We took a beautiful, Italian cruise ship from Alexandria to Brindisi, Italy. I got sea sick like a dog. Still, I enjoyed the tasty Italian food, fresh fruit, especially the Bosco pears. Even today, many decades later, I see the happenings of those days when I eat a Bosco pear! By train we traveled through Italy and Switzerland to Ober-Esslingen am Neckar, located in the Province of Baden-Württemberg. No border patrol had any qualms with our passports. It seems that they were better than the real thing? Our father had found a good forger, albeit expensive, in Alexandria or Cairo who made those false passport for all of us?!

In Ober-Esslingen we were welcomed by my uncle Lolo (Karl), his wife Ditta and his 3 kids Gudrun (1938), Rudi (1941) and Isolde (1945). They lived in a rented a mini-apartment with only two bedrooms. So we 6 from Egypt lived with them for some 2 months. We lived like sardines. We slept in any little corner we could find, on the floor in the attic where it was quite cold (December 1951!). We had to eat in shifts because there was simply insufficient room for us 11 persons. Finally our father found an apartment for us on the hills of Esslingen in a suburb called Hohenbühl. He had to pay a construction fee of some DM (Deutsche Mark) 3500! A fortune in those times! The pension, which dad had received as a going-away gift from his Jewish boss was really heaven-sent! One has to remember that the nearby Stuttgart where a lot of heavy industry once existed (Daimler Benz, Siemens, Bosch, jus to name a few) was heavily bombarded by the Allies during WWII and was destroyed by some 90%!!! Esslingen was lucky because it was barely bombarded. It was rumored that spies who were friendly to the Allies were hiding in Esslingen and that supposedly was the reason for it to have been spared? Our dad told us later that Uncle Hans, his elder brother, an accountant, wanted to get his hands onto the money, which dad had. But our father did not trust him and refused to do so. His brothers had declared him dead when they were applying for repatriation moneys from the German Government in order to have less persons share this financial support. Dad worked hard to find work for us kids. He managed to place my brother Fritz (also Friedrich Wilhelm Heuchert) with Robert Bosch in Stuttgart. Traudl found a job in Esslingen and so did Mary (At Eberspaecher). For me he found an apprenticeship in Ober-Esslingen with a company called Delmag. They were builders of construction equipment like Rams for steel and concrete poles. These poles are used where the ground is too soft and can not support a building. My application was accepted in February 1952 with a start date of September 1st of same year. So I accepted an interim apprenticeship at an iron-smith ( A. Bräuning Bauschlosserei) located downtown Esslingen (Untere Metzgerbachstrasse 16). That place was at least 100 years old. It was a real blacksmith with barely anything that could be called modern. The smith himself, Mr. Karl Probst, must have had 60 or more years and spoke a strong local dialect. He had equipment to make your own acetylene, which is used for welding. He had two forges and taught me how to make iron railings for the many multistory apartment buildings that were being built everywhere. It wasn’t a great job. But I had something to do and even earned a few Deutsche Mark. There I learned about the old smith that told his helper when I have the red-hot iron on the anvil and I nod with my head you swing that hammer as hard as you can and hit hard. So the smith nodded and the helper swung the hammer and hit the smith smack on top of his head, and killed him. Hahaha.

To get to that old blacksmith I walked down the steep hill ( Die Beutau) in about half an hour of strenuous downhill walking I would arrive to my interim job. I could barely wait for October 1st 1952 to come around and I could start my toolmaker apprenticeship at Delmag of 3 and a half years. At Delmag, Fritz Müller Strasse 1, Oberesslinegen am Neckar.we were some 32 apprentices. The “Meister” (Master-craftsman or Foreman), Mr. Veith, was a very nice fellow. Firm but fair. We first learned the basics of metal-working such as filing, chiseling, sawing, drilling, polishing, etc. Since I already knew most of that stuff from my two years at Don Bosco, I quickly earned a good reputation. Meister Veith and the owners of Delmag (Reinhold Dornfeld), were quite impressed by my ability to speak 4 languages, and my good knowledge of mathematics at age 14. Well, at Don Bosco we had already learned to solve mathematical problems with 2 unknowns and to calculate the square root of numbers by hand. At Delmag we worked 9 hours every working day with a half hour for lunch and 5 hours on Saturdays = 50 hours/week. One day per week we had classroom studies for theoretical knowledge. The remuneration for an apprentice was mentioned in a contract: DM 50/month for the first year. (At the then existing exchange rate of about 4 DM/$this was US$12.50 per month!) DM 60 ($15) for the second and DM 70 ($17.50) for the third year. This was not much by any standard when one considers that I had to pay DM 245 ($61.25) for a run-of-the-mill bicycle that had 4-speeds!?

Esslingen am Neckar

In Esslingen, we lived with Uncle Lolo and his wife Ditta in her tiny two-room apartment. They themselves had 3 children, Gudrun (1938), Rudi (1941) and Isolde (1945). We children slept on the floor. It was tight as sardines in a can, but we got along well.

My uncle Lolo with his wife Ditta, plus children, had arrived along with our uncles and aunts Hans and Erna Frieda from Silesia to Esslingen as refugees. They were all relocated in 1940 from Bukovina to Silesia after Germany had signed with the Soviet Union, a non-aggression pact (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact). Virtually all German people migrated out of Bukovina. They had found a tailor shop available in Silesia. This was most likely the property of some poor Jew, who was probably expropriated and then killed by the Nazis? But they did not stay long in Silesia, since a few years later, the war was lost and they fled to Esslingen from the Soviets. My Uncle Hans, a few years older than our father, had fought in the First World War against the Italians in South Tyrol and has thereby lost a leg. It happened at the same southern front where another uncle of us has fallen. They Fought in Italy because a portion of northeastern Italy, including Trieste, was once Austrian. On their resettlement, they could only take what they could carry themselves. Thus, it was more of an escape, than a relocation. But ... they have survived. Uncle Hans told me that he had hidden his mother's jewelry in his hollow wooden leg so that no one could steal them during the resettlement. He and his siblings then also got a reimbursed by the West German Government for their parents' house, which they had in Czernowitz, Bukovina. 

You have to imagine how our ancestors emigrated from the Palatinate in 1783 to Bukovina. Then in 1940 their descendants are again returned to Germany. They wanted to build up a new life. They did it and lost everything again .. because of the damn wars! Although there were more wars in the time, my ancestors had about 135 years a long stretch of peace in Galicia and Bukovina!

My cousin Gudrun was born in Bukovina in 1938. But her brother, Rudi Heuchert was born in 1941 in Silesia. Their sister Isolde was born in 1945 in Esslingen. Seems a like a gypsy family that travels around constantly?

In Esslingen, my uncle Hans, asked our father for his money (pension) that he had brought from Egypt. But that did not do our Fritz, he could not trust his big brother. He immediately began to look for an apartment for us. He soon found one a little outside of Esslingen, in the area of the Hohenbühl, on the 4th floor. However, he had to pay a high building fee. We were lucky that his "pension" from the Bonneterie came in as a great benefit. He searched everywhere but could not find work in Germany. Germany was still in the beginning of reconstruction. But he was already 53 years old. He helped us to find work. Fritz found a job at Robert Bosch in Stuttgart. My sister Traudl found one in Esslingen, and my other sister Mary found a good job at Eberspaecher in Upper Esslingen and I found a machinist apprenticeship at Delmag in Upper Esslingen. The company was in private hands and manufactured Diesel Rams that would ram pilons into the ground. Those machines were used in construction to ram poles into the ground when it was too soft. But since my first apprenticeship started in the fall, and it was spring, I took another interim apprentice job as a smith in Esslingen. This was at a small smith shop in the middle of the old town. The workshop was probably more than 200 years old. There was a real blacksmith anvil there. He made his own acetylene for welding. We mostly made ​steel railings, which were used in the new public housing developments. Stuttgart was indeed destroyed to 92% during the Second World War and so many people moved to Esslingen. Esslingen had barely gotten any bombs. Why? It was rumored that spies were living there and thus the allies have laid their carpet bombing just over Stuttgart and spared Esslingen. In the Stuttgart area there where many defense firms located such as Mercedes, Siemens, Bosch, etc. 

The Master of the locksmith was also from the last century. We took the red-hot iron in the forge, he kept it on the anvil. Each time he nodded, I had to hit it with a sledgehammer. Some of the railings I helped install in the homes on the Hohenbühl. The apartment, which our father had found was in a very nice location. From the small balcony we could see the valley below and make out Esslingen’s old town with the high towers of the Frauenkirche (The Lady’s Church). We lived not far from the Esslinger Burg (Castle), which was from the 13th century. We often took the bus into town and back. The bus stop was about 400 meters away from our apartments. But we also went very often on foot to save the buss fare. In the morning it was not so bad because we could walk the "Beutausteige" (very steep road) down. But the evening we had this steep hill to climb, after a long days’ work! We often had to walk in a zigzag, because it was just too hard to go straight up. Of course the cyclists pushed their bikes up because it was much too steep to ride. But, it was good exercise!

The Apprenticeship at Delmag

I was glad when I could begin learning at Delmag in the autumn of 1952. The apprentice  department had a large workshop where about 30 apprentices completed their training. Our Master Veith was strict but great. I had a bit of a special position, because I came from abroad and spoke German with an Arab accent. Many Swabians thought we were from Lithuania? My preliminary work at the Istituto Don Bosco in Alexandria also helped me very much since I was already filing, sawing, chiseling, drilling, and new some mathematics. In the vocational school that we visited once a week, things came to me easily by my preschool. So I could complete my apprenticeship in 3 years, instead of the then customary 3 ½ years. The owner was a very nice man and so were his two sons, who were back safely from the war. They were also generous with us apprentices, because we were allowed to go once a year in the Bavarian mountains to camp for 2 weeks. He paid all of the expenses! The Master Veith and a young craftsman came along to keep an eye on their flock. They got the tents, the food, etc. Once when we were in Oberstdorf, Bavaria it was raining like cats and dogs. Our tents were about to float away. Our Master Veith then rented rooms for us in an Oberammergau Hotel and we had great fun there. While camping we had to get up very early, around 6 AM. We went to the Alpine brook and washed ourselves under the supervision of Mr. Veith or his assistant every day. The water was ice cold! We visited Berchtesgaden and the picturesque Königssee, arguably one of the most beautiful places of Germany. Folks there say that while God was making the earth, his coat touched this corner of Germany and made it so gorgeous. There we toured a hydroelectric plant that was probably one of the oldest in Europe. As we learned how a hydroelectric plants work and how the turbines made ​electric ​current. We also often went hiking through the mountains and were able to enjoy wonderful views from up there.

After completing my apprenticeship in 1955, I stayed at Delmag because I got a very good job in research and development department. There we built new diesel pumps for the rams that were getting bigger and bigger. I was testing the equipment frequently on site with new diesel pumps. At the construction sites I met those famous carpenters from Hamburg. They seemed to be another human species? They wore their century-old, traditional outfits and were tough as nails. They told me that if there were more than 24 drops of rain/m², they stopped working and we went to the "Boiz" (tavern). There they showed what they could do: How to lift chairs with the teeth, for example, without using their hands. They also ate Glass those jerks to win a bet for a case of beer. They actually ate the beer glass, only the bottom they left. They bled a little at the mouth, but said "that’s nothing". The main thing we had some beer to drink, they said. Don’t worry, young fellow, they consoled me, the stomach’s acid will dissolve the glass! 

Delmag also made "frogs". These devices compacted the soil so that it could bear more weight. One day a large crane came and lifted a huge crate with some machinery in it, probably a compressor. The steel rope that was carrying the crate broke and the machine fell almost directly at me. But in the very last second I dived away from it into the mud. Unfortunately I was not fast enough. The corner of the crate caught my upper thigh and tore a piece of flesh 'out. Here I was, in shock, in the thick, wet mud, until the ambulance picked me up. In the hospital they cleaned the wound and stitched it together. The wound healed quite well. I was still young and strong (about 18). 

To get to Delmag in Ober-Esslingen, I took most of the time my bike. Yes, I had bought a brand new bike for about DM 230! ( ~ $60 then). My mom was so sweet and had “borrowed” the money, and I stuttered it back within 2 years. Actually, it was my brotherFritz's money. For he regularly sent money from the Congo, where he worked for Bosch sent money regularly to our mom to put it in his savings account. Thus, it was my dear brother Fritz, unknowingly, who financed my bike. Fritz had been sent out from Bosch to  the (then) Belgian Congo as a foreign contractor. Over the years, Fritz had his own Bosch service station with a BMW dealership. He was doing very well in the Congo. He came to Germany and found Guni, whom he married. Within a few years, they had three children, all born in the Congo: They were Caren, Thomas and Andy. In the early 1960-ies the Congo had a civil war. Katanga was chipped away from the Congo and it was dangerous to live there. Thus Fritz and his family returned to Germany.

At that time Sonja and I were living in Hamburg, thus it must have been in the late 1916-ties. We recommended them to make vacations at the Baltic See, where we had been going frequently with Sonja’s parents. So, Fritz and Guni packed their teen-aged 3 kids and traveled to Heiligenhafen, a quaint port at the Baltic See. Of the 3 weeks they vacationed there, it rained every day except for one single day! They never visited the North of Germany again! We felt sorry for them.

Cycling to Lake Constance.

Around 1954, Rudi Heuchert (my cousin) I and a few friends took some old bicycles and biked south to lake constance. The tour was about 500 Km long. We rode from Esslingen to Überlingen, then along Lake Constance to Lindau and then we went back again. Gosh, that was exhausting. We had no gears on those old bikes, and we had to traverse two mountain ranges, the Schwäbische (Swabian) Alb and the Allgäu. We dragged along some tarpaulins to make tents. We crossed the Swabian Alb and many other mountains and hills. I pushed my bike probably half of the stretch? For food we had cream cheese (packed in aluminum triangles) with bread for 4 days and then we bought more on the go. We each had about DM 12 o'clock here. There had to be enough. Does it also. I even came back home with two marks. Was a very good trip because the scenery was very beautiful.

My Confirmation

In 1953, I was confirmed, in the little church on the Hohenbühl where later my parents had their grave. I took Bible lessons with the pastor, who was quite nice. I was 15 and most other confirmands were only 12 or 13. Thus, I was the "senior". The priest was once annoyed with me, because I had told the class: "If God is so powerful, then why does he not eliminate everything evil and unpleasant from the earth"? My cousin Rudi Heuchert was been confirmed at the same time. In the confirmation I was at the church door, because the little church was full to the last seat. Suddenly, I do not know why, I felt dizzy and I fell backwards. Fortunately, a few people were standing behind me and caught me. To this day I do not know why this happened? Did it have to do with my stupid question about God’s omnipotence? For the confirmation I wore a beautiful blue suit, with very light, white thread lines. The suit was the first of my life. In my early childhood I mostly inherited clothing from my older brother Fritz, which my mother altered to fit me. 

My best friend Helmut Anders

In the same building, on the Hohenbühl, just next door lived my then best friend, Helmut Anders. He was a year older than me and was a refugee from East Prussia. He lived with his uncle, Mr. Burger, who had also become his foster father, because his father was killed in the war. He made a toolmaker apprenticeship at Daimler in Untertürkheim, about 20 Km from Esslingen. Helmut and I took our savings, put it together and bought an old (1937) DKW motorcycle with a 98 cc. 2-cycle motor. We were not yet 16 and therefore we did not have our driver's license. But we had already taken several driving lessons. We repaired our machine, cleaned and polished it. We shared the usage honestly, since we paid fifty/fifty (DM 100, each DM 50 (then $12.00!). I took the thing to Augsburg and Munich and visited my Uncle Emil and my Aunt Paula (both maternal). The spark plug rotted off frequently and thus did not produce a spark. It was very awkward, since I had to stop, unscrew the spark plug and clean it, and then had to screw it back in again. This was very awkward and uncomfortable. To resolve this problem, I removed the cylinder head and brought to my apprentices shop. There I drilled a hole in it from the other side, threaded it, and inserted a second spark plug. Now I could change the spark plug wire from one spark plug to the other without stopping. It worked quite well, but when the engine was wet, I got an electric shock. Ouch!

In 1955, I graduated as a tool maker and became a journeymen. Helmut and I each bought a real motorcycle. A Zündapp with a 200 cc two-stroke engine. (Not the Great Zündapp with boxer-engine!). They were not the same year, since Helmut’s was younger by a year. We proudly drove through the area and made trips to Hamburg, Bremen, Munich, and so many times I went to Marseille, France (14 hours non-stop) where the Samaans (our French friends from Egypt) lived. They had emigrated from Egypt a few years beforeof us. The old Mr. Samaan was a native Syrian. He and his wife, Madame Therése, were both orphans. Their son was Louis who was good friend of the Fritz. They were about the same age. His older sister was also Therése. Mentally she was slightly retarded. His younger sister was the Kathie, with which I was engaged for two years. Therefore, the many trips to Marseille. But there I also liked the weather and the lifestyle. The beach was not only for swimming and taning, but also for picnicking with French snacks and Pastice (like Pernod). On one of these trips, I drove via Paris to Marseille. Then I slept in barns and haystacks along the road, since I had no money for hotels. Paris was terribly exciting. Amazingly, I survived with the motorcycle through the thick, seemingly insane Parisian traffic. To save money, I ate in restaurants only the starter, a most hearty soup with lots of bread. Then I ordered the famous French cheese plate that I ate half empty, again with plenty of bread. I was young and had little money. The waiters did not like what I did, because the bill then was always very low, since the starters and the cheese plate are the cheapest items on the menue. But I managed quite well because the good French waiters saw that I was too young to have any money. Some waiters shook their head with a smile and whispered “you rascal”!

My Military Service

In 1957, a letter from the department of defense fluttered into tour mail box (I still lived with our mother on the Hohenbühl, Esslingen). They advised me to join the newly created Bundeswehr (Army) because I am of the Year 1938. I inquired and found out that if I voluntarily commit myself for 18 months to go to the military, instead of the statutory 12 months, I would get DM 210/month (~$53.00 then), instead of DM 60 ($15 then) that I would get as inductee. Moreover, I could select the troops and the geographical area where I could take the service.

Helmut and I really wanted the become ship-engineers and started to look for marine engineering schools in Germany. This paln did not work out because of the  then Chancellor of West Germany, Mr. Konrad Adenauer had negotiated with the Soviets the return of many thousands of prisoners of war, and this had a priority in universities and ships.

So I went to the army for 1 ½ and Helmut to the German Navy for 3 years. When Helmut was being interviewed the officer in charge asked the if he could swim? Why ? Helmut asked? Well, because we do not have any ships! Hahaha. Germany could not build ships at that time because it was not 100% sovereign. The Allies had won the war wanted to avoid that Germany to be rearmed. So the ships were built by the French in Cherbourg on the Atlantic, but the technology such as Diesel engines, etc. came from Germany.

I selected the Rhineland as my service area. I had heard that the carnival is at its liveliest and the Rhine countries in general are very friendly and funny (Alaaaf!). I completed my basic training of 3 months in Wetzlar on the Lahn. Very nice area. I chose the Ordnance troops where all vehicles, such as tanks, trucks, cars of all kinds are repaired. Thus this force stays behind the front lines and thus has a higher rate of survival in case of war! That was recommended to me by our father: Stay as far away as possible from the front, then you will not become cannon fodder. (Good tip!) The service began in the spring of 1957. It was a beautiful time. Since I could speak pretty good English, I was immediately employed as an interpreter for U.S. weapons specialists who trained us. Most, if not all, weapons were of American origin. So I came into the officers' mess of the Americans, because the specialists were all officers, mostly engineers. So I had access to American goods such as cigarettes, whiskey, corned beef, chocolate, chewing gum, etc. The army wanted to make a nice impression with the locals. So we organized a few times "friendship evenings" in the city of Wetzlar, where we made funny, comedy  performances. I made a funny presentation like a stand-up comedian, telling them my life’s experience: The Stork lost his way and instead of dropping me off in Germany, he brought me to Egypt where I was trampled on by camels, and so on. People laughed like crazy. One day while marching we short guys were in the very back of the platoon. This was not easy because those tall guys upfront made big steps and we shorties made shorter steps. However, I was not the best but the loudest singer while marching. So I convinced our Master Sergeant that we short and loud guys should be marching in the very front. Pretty soon we marched in step up front and soon we short-legged guys had it much easier. One day the corporal shouted "3, 4, a song". Since we had already sung our entire repertoire, I started in Arabic my "Tahalili ya Batta" -song (An Egyptian children's song). It is very rhythmic and was good to march on. My buddies knew it already because after a few beers I always used to start singing that Arabic lullaby and they sang the refrain “Wanna-manny-Hey”!  You could laugh your head off: The whole platoon, about 180 men, sang loudly and happily. This song I had often sang in the taverns and taught got my friends to sing the refrain "Uanna mani hey! So the “new” German army marched to an Arab kindergarten song!

After three months of basic training in Wetzlar on the Lahn, we were transferred to Koblenz on the Rhine where I spent the remaining 15 months. Of course, I still had my Zündapp motorbike. So we went on trips through the Hunsrück (West from Koblenz) and the Moselle Valley. We made the whole area unsafe by visiting many wine-fests. A buddy had received from his father an old Opel Kapitän. A big black cruiser like the ones that Chicago mobsters lused in many American movies. We were 4 guys buzzing around with this precious car. We shared the costs so it becamr affordable to drive that old gas-guzzler. Our company commander, Captain Roll tried to convince me to stay with the military and NATO and to go to Fontainebleau, near Paris, to become an interpreters, because I could already speak 4 languages. He could not promise how far I could get there and how much I would earn. So I did not do it. He was a great captain. Once the whole company made a trip up the Rhine from Koblenz to Rüdesheim and back. We drank the wine out of water glasses. The captain and I met once under the table and laughed about it very much. We were so drunk that I do not remember how we came back? In the fall of 1957 my military service was over and I went back home to my Mother in Esslingen am Neckar.

My engagement to Kathie

In 1958, after the compulsory military service, I was engaged in Esslingen with Kathie Samaan of Marseille. Her parents had come to Esslingen to celebrate with us. We had known each other since we were toddlers in Alexandria. So I went as often as I could to Marseille where she lived. Her father was very strict, a Syrian orphan. But we still had a very good time together. Only when I emigrated to Australia she did not want to join me because her father forbade her to do so. He insisted for me to come to France and work in the Uranium mines in the Atlas mountains of Algeria, then a French colony. I refused to do so since I wanted to do what I wanted to do and not what Monsieur Samaan wanted me to do. Thus, our engagement went to the brink and I sent her back the engagement ring she had given me. Because of my frequent visits to Kathie in Marseilles, I practiced my French a lot. Once I drove to Marseille via Paris and had a good few days there.

Our Father in Esslingen

During my military service I occasionally drove home to mom who continued to live with our Father on the Hohenbühl in Esslingen. He had returned from Egypt after he had worked there for two years, for Pfaff sewing machines. They were both unemployed and received social assistance from the state (welfare)  Thank you Germany! Our father liked to go to an economic aid store (similar to the American Restore of Habitat for Humanity) in Esslingen. There he was able to stay warmth and talk to the officer there and haggle when he saw something he thought he needed. He bought a small motorcycle, a 125 cc Adler. He unfortunately had an accident with it whereby he had hurt his head quite a bit. He was NOT wearing a helmet , which is a NO-NO in Germany? A few years later he suffered a stroke. It was then speculated that a clot had formed because of the accident and later a blocked an artery. He was paralyzed and could not speak. It was so bad that the doctors were already discussing the cause of death. Although paralyzed he was conscious and told us later that he silently damning the doctors. But he did not die.... to the surprise of the doctors. He thought “I will not do you assholes the favor!” But after that he was partially paralyzed. The left side of his body barely moved. But with time, he managed to move the arm and the leg a little bit. So he met an Italian who, behind the military barracks on the Hohenbühl, had a small motorcycle repair shop. There, our father had him build a tricycle that he could drive using only one hand and one foot. Sometimes he even took mom on that contraption. She did not like it very much. She did not feel safe there. But our father, despite being partially paralyzed he roamed around with his tricycle. Well, was still a go-getter!

Robert Bosch in Stuttgart

After the military service (Sept. 1958), I found a job in the research department at Robert Bosch in Stuttgart. There I wanted to be trained to become a service engineer at one of Bosch’s foreign service stations, how my brother Fritz had become in the Belgian Congo. But it did not work out. The explanation was that I was too young at 20. But I suppose that the legal dispute, which my brother Fritz had with the Bosch in the Congo, had something to do with it? So I began to look on around for an alternative, because I had the wanderlust and wanted to see the world, before the third world war broke out (!). Consider:  From 1950 to 1953 the Korean War had been fought. In 1955 started the American war in Vietnam. The Iron Curtain was rock hard and the tensions between the West and the Sowjet Union and China were very high. Fritz told me that it would not be a good idea to come to him in the Congo, as the riots were getting worse there because the Congolese were fighting for independence from colonial Belgium. So I wrote letters to various consulates as that of the USA, Canada, Australia, and South Africa, to see if that could get me a job. I also found the International Labour Office in Frankfurt and these people were very helpful to me. In the meantime we, four pals at Bosch wanted to emigrate. We all worked in the testing and development department of Bosch. My specialty was the development of an injection pump for an 8-cylinder engine that could run on either fuel, gasoline or Diesel. Daimler-Benz developed this engine for the new tanks "Leopard" of the Bundeswehr (West German military, allied in NATO). The project manager of this interesting project was a very nice engineer who was also my mentor. He wanted me to go to engineering school, but I had no money and my wanderlust was stronger. We got work offers to work in the USA, Canada, Australia and Belgium. All wanted skilled, German workers. In the end, my friend Fritz Wehrmann and I, accepted a job offer from Melbourne Australia. It was the best deal, as the Australian government paid 80% of the travel costs of DM 1,200. For this, we needed to commit ourselves only to remain in Australia for two years. The Americans and Canadians would have advanced to the trip cost us, but we would then have to pay it back. Thus, we decided to migrate to Australia. We wanted to see the world before World War III starts. The Korean War had ended in 1953 with the division of North and South Korea. The Soviets and the Chinese had strongly helped the North Koreans. The Vietnam War was rooting for years and again it looked as if a world war could break out any time soon. For the emigration to Australia we had to go through a medical examination, as the Australians did not need sick immigrants. Thus, Fritz and I realized our dream of emigration. The other two buddies got cold feet and gave up. We sold our motor bikes and took the train to Cuxhaven, where the Italian cruise ship "Castel Felice" (Happy Castle) took us to Australia. On the way to the North Sea we took a few days break in Westphalia where Fritz's mother and sister lived.

In September 1960, the seafaring Fritz & Hans were sailing to Australia!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

     Ubi Bene Ubi Casa 
                                         (Home is where life is good) 
                                                 Chapter III 

Australia

In the autumn, September 2.1960 Fritz Wehrmann and I sailed with an Italian cruise ship called Castel Felice (Happy Castle) from Cuxhaven to Sydney, Australia. A week before we went to Fritz's mother in Vehlage near Lübbecke, Westphalia. We lived it up with plenty of drinks and good food.  For a better digestion, we went to the nearby Midland Canal to swim and came back late. The sister of Fritz worked at a Bitters factory where they got the bitter stuff for free. She swallowed the things as if they were water. She had become addicted to it? The Fritz’s neighbor brought us kindly to Bremen-Lesum. He picked us up on the 31/09/1960, early in the morning at 4:30 AM (the middle of the night!). Then we went at 7:15 AM to the Sea lodge, where we stayed overnight and completed the formalities. The next day, the 01/10/60, they took us by coach to Cuxhaven (North Sea Port), where the Castel Felice was waiting for us. We were squeezed in a 6-berth cabin like sardines. Most of the other emigrants were our age and very Friendly. The whole crew from the Castel Felice was Italian, but the Chef was German. In good, but cloudy weather the journey started on 02/10/60 at 3:30 pm. At Dover we took a pilot on board, who helped us to navigate through the English Channel. Fortunately, the otherwise so angry Bay of Biscay was unusually calm. Our destination was Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, where we had accepted a job offer. The cruise ship was crammed to the gills with passengers. I guess about 1,400 passengers were on board. (Normal capacity was 980 people.) Except for some Germans, many Hungarians and Czechoslovakians were on board. Many of the latter had fled to Germany during the various rebellions that had hit their countries against the occupation of the Soviets. They fled to West Germany and were glad to emigrate because they did not want to remain in Germany. Again, I had my language skills to my advantage because I taught language courses in English for selected (female!) emigrants on the ship. Also, I quickly made friends with some of the crew, because I could babble Italian with them. My plan was to eat less went over board. The Italians dished on good and tasty meals. We sailed through the English Channel, where the Bay of Biscay was unusually quiet. In this infamous Strait circa 1920 my father almost drowned! We sailed past Portugal and then through the Straits of Gibraltar (now I know if the “Gibraltar Road” is paved or out of concrete)! I did not become seasick. I had brought some tablets (Ba-Lü), which seemed to have helped?  On 03/09/60 we steamed past Malta. The sun, as is customary here, seemed hot and strong. Many of the passengers, not used to so much sun shine, were running around with severe sunburns. Fritz and I, because I had good experience from Alexandria, Egypt, avoided the sun.

Next we went to our first port of call: Port Said, Egypt, where we arrived on 12.10.1960 at 23:00 clock. Many hours before I sat up on the deck, staring with Fritz’s binoculars towards the coast, to possibly see “my” Alexandria? But in vain, we were too far away. Since I was tired, I crawled into my bunk. In the middle of the night, it was around 3:00 a.m. my cabin mate Lothar woke me up with blows to my valuable hinder. He was very excited, because the Arabs were offering their wares with loud cries. They offered leather bags, “leather” photo-albums, Scheb-Scheb (slippers). It was amazing how good their German was? In Port Said I could haggle in Arabic with the Egyptians, to the delight of my fellow passengers. Five of my buddies stayed close to me, because they knew that I could talk Arabic. The harbor stank like dead fish. Yes, this is Egypt. The other mates were disgusted at this. I had less problems with it because I was used to it from my childhood in Alexandria. To my delight, I received in Port Said a letter from my mother. We arrived without difficulty through passport control. Eastern Europeans, who were also on board, were sent back by the Egyptian officials and they swore like pigs, saying "el Aulad el Kaelb” (bastards). (Probably because it was known that the poor guys had no money?) The Arabs thought that I was a "policeman" (one from Alexandria) because I spoke Arabic. It must have been the accent of Alexandria that they recognized? In Port Said everything was still asleep because it was only 04:00 oclock in the morning. Many police officers and soldiers stood around half asleep. This night guard did not let us in the bazaar. When I spoke to a policeman in Arabic he hugged me and asked if I want anything? I requested a Kahua (coffee) "bel socker Siada" (with lots of sugar). He went off immediately and brought the coffee and Coca Cola for my buddies. I asked whether there was “foul” (typical Arab beans) to be had? He immediately jumped up and commanded a bearded Saiidi (Egyptian farmer) to bring some foul and falafel. The guy jumped up in haste returned after 5 minutes with foul (soybean meal), Bedengaen Torschi (eggplant), tomatoes and scoring Tari (pieces of flat bread, soft) and some falafel. Unfortunately, we had to go again, as our steamer went on at 05:30. On the way to the Castel Felice I saw an older man hlaf asleep next to a cart with Harissa (honey cake). I woke him up. He was in a bad mood (no wonder)? I want a piece of harissa I said to him, please. (Men fadlack) He scolded: "Leave me alone!" He refused give me anything that early in the morning. When I wanted to pay with DM (Deutsche Mark) another Arab came by and asked me to help. He took the 2 DM, paid the Harissa-man 5 piasters, and then he escorted us to our ship. For me 2 DM were not a lot of money. For the Arabs, it was probably enough to survive a whole day? The Arabs were laughing because we started singing "Ta-alili-yah-batta" on the way to the ship. A children's song that is very rhythmic and I sing it often, full joy of having fun. It was really great being in my native country after 9 long years.

The Italians had their hands full trying to scare the Arab traders from board. They were everywhere, like ants. Finally at 8:00 a.m. we sailed away but had some delays in the Suez Canal. The temperature was unbearable. About 40° C (100 ⁰F). The canal was completely straight and we travelled with about 10 km/h (6 mph) for 60 Km (40 miles). The statue of Lesseps, the French architect of the Suez Canal had been blown up by the nationalists. Only the base was still visible. At 06:30 (we had the time adjusted by 2 hours) we passed Ismailia, one of the most fertile lands of Egypt. (Today, in 2009, this beautiful area is too salty and is drying up, thanks to the Aswan dam!). Seeing the oasis it seemed like a fata morgana, appearing from nowhere in the middle of the desert. In Ismailia we could see swimmers, diving boards, a small lake. Shortly after that we passed a war memorial for the First World War (1914-1918). There the sun went down, and I had took a picture like I have done with so many other sunsets. We also sailed past a few dried out lakes. After that, the landscape was very boring. To the left we had the Sinai Peninsula. To the right was nothing but desert. No tree. No shrub. Everything dry and desert-like. Since I was tired, I a went to bed (bunk) already at midnight. One could join a tour that went to Cairo, the pyramids, bazaars and the famous historical museum. However, this whole tour cost 75 DM. That was too much for such poor fellow like me. Instead, I saw the whole Suez Canal. We were in a convoy of six ships. Of these, 2 were cruise ships. The others were freighters.

We sailed in extreme heat through the Suez Canal to Aden, then a British protectorate, today Yemen, where it was 46° C (115 ⁰F) hot. It was 09/16/60. Fritz and I wore our swimwear under our shorts. So we jumped into the water to cool off. Pooh - hell, the water was as warm as dishwater. Aden is a customs and tax free zone. So I could not pass it up and bought a Grundig tape recorder for DM 90 ($22)! In Germany it would have cost DM 140 (35)! The Arabs there were still under the wing of the English and were polite and nicer than the Egyptians. At Aden started the crossing of the great Indian Ocean, where we also crossed the equator with big fanfare and a lively ceremony. Unfortunately, the weather was so bad that the ceremony had to be postponed for a few days. The boat rolled quite a bit. Well, we (Fritz and I) did not get seasick. Then finally Neptune, in Latin: “Neptuni Maximilian Marium Dei Optimi Veneratisimi” came on board and we had a great, crazy party. On the ship we could buy duty free goods: cigarettes such as peer Export for DM 0.85 (then $0.30)!, Whiskey for DM 0.70 (then $0.17) a shot. ( I hardly smoked!) ( It cost too much to do so!) My stay in Swabia (Southern Germany, where they are as tight as the Scotts!) made ​​a saver out of me?

After 14 days without sight of land we approached the Australian waters. We were sailing at about 30 kmh (20 mph)! Then the weather improved. We were constantly accompanied by flying fish, dolphins and near land numerous albatrosses and various other sea birds. On the trip we had may, different balls as: a reception ball, the equator-crossing ball, the farewell ball, etc. Every afternoon, a 6-man Italian band played for 2 hours inviting us to dance. The emigrant ship was all one class. We had a 6-bed cabin with friendly fellow peers. In Fremantle, Western Australia, we made ​​a brief port visit, which already got out the first emigrants. It struck me as having a lot of exaggerated makeup, the young and the very old women running around in Perth. Even the left-hand traffic was unusual. The next port was Melbourne. On the route we received a telegram from Bosch that offered us a job at the Bosch store in Sydney for 19 pounds 10 shillings a week. That was better than the 15 pounds we had gotten in Melbourne. So we accepted the offer by return telegram. This allowed us to sail to Sydney, which Fritz and I favored anyhow! In Melbourne we met the guys who had made ​​us the first job offer. They were very disappointed when they heard that we will continue sailing to Sydney. We had no qualms about it and told them frankly that the offer from Bosch is much better. Four more pounds a week cannot be overlooked? The only thing that we had to sell was our labor, and thus we sold it to the highest bidder. Sydney was also my preferred destination, because it is further north and is therefore warmer than Melbourne. Sydney also ranks among one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In Melbourne, the Bosch company made ​​a big fuss and picked us up in a large Chrysler and showed us the town. Then we visited the Bosch plant in Melbourne, where we met the big boss, Mr. Baumeister. Then we went to the Bosch canteen to eat lunch. After our stop in Melbourne the food on our cruise ship, the Castel Felice became much better. Yes, tourists had boarded in Melbourne, and they want good, and are not treated like us poor emigrants. Most emigrants got out in Melbourne because from there they were brought to the immigrant and distribution center in Bonegilla. From there they were sent to their different destinations, depending on where they had found work.

Bosch in Sydney. Our first job in Sydney, Australia.

In Sydney Bosch had sent a German-Australian to pick us up from the ship. He helped us through customs and had lunch with us. Then he drove us to his boarding house in Drummoyne, a suburb of Sydney. The place had six bedrooms and two kitchens but only one shower. There were 5 double and one single rooms. Four or five other young German emigrants (Jens Pannenborg, Johnny and Reinhard, etc.) and an older (~45) Australian couple named Howell lived there. With that many people living there the showers were always busy for hours and we had to wait patiently for our turn. The ones who showered the longest were the Howells. One day, early in the morning, I went into the shower, locked the door and climbed out the window. That taught the Howells a lesson, yah, they now had to wait for hours outside. Thus we young Germans were a Clique? The location of the boarding house was quite convenient, because we could take the bus to work. Conveniently located is well said, there was a pub nearby. We spent many happy and "somber" hours there. As usual, we sang songs in German after the 4 th. beer. There were also Irish emigrants and they sang their Irish songs. It was great fun. The pubs closed at 6:00 p.m. to make the guys to go home. Some waited and sat on the curb until the pub opened again at 8:00 p.m. Yes, this pause was thought to be required, said the politicians, because so many guys drank until they keeled over. However, thanks to Sonja, she kept me from falling into the abyss of drunkenness. Yes, the pubs were just for men because women are NOT allowed to go into the pub! Australia has probably inherited this from the British? It was great to earn 19.5 pounds a week, and we got about 17 pounds on our hand. That was a lot back then! We arrived on a Saturday and on Monday we went to the Bosch service station to work. We got 19 pounds 10 shillings, then DM 180 (then ~ $45) per week. The rent for the room, which I shared with Fritz was £ 5 = DM 46 ($11). Food was about as expensive as in Germany. At the same lifestyle we have around £ 10 = DM 93.70 ( $23) saved per week (!). That was about 80 % more than we could have saved in Germany. Deductions were a total of 2.5 pounds. So it was that we earned a total of some 70 % more than in good old Germany. We also got 50 % more money for overtime and 100% more for hours worked during holidays. We made a lot of money and therefore could save a lot. However, we had to pay for our own health insurance, as is common in the United States. It cost only 3.1 % of our gross wages. So little because we were young and healthy. What was really expensive were technical items such as televisions, radios, etc., because they all had to be imported and the import duty was not exactly low to promote the local industry. The boarding  house where we lived, was owned by a German fellow who was already 8 years in Australia. He already owned 3 houses, one of which was converted into the boarding house, in which we were living. To go to the beach one would take the bus for about 45 minutes because one had to switch bus lines a few times.

The Essex. Our 1927 luxury coach. Our FIRST car!

Just after 2 months, Fritz and I bought a very old car for 20 pounds (one weeks salary)! We shared the costs 50/50. We bought it off an older (~ 50) tavern visitor who also liked his pint of cool beer. It was a 1927 Essex. He kept it in his barn for many years. Besides the car we got to an overhauled 3.5-liter, 1933-Essex engine and a whole lot of spare wheels (with wooden spokes), replacement pistons and rings, etc. The thing was unbelievably filthy, since the chickens were crawling all over the poor thing, covering it with tons of droppings. Amazingly, it still drove and was licensed for another 5 months. Yes, they were generous in Australia, and there was no TÜF like in Germany (Technical supervisory board). The large car burnt a lot gasoline, but what's the point? The liter of gasoline, then cost only 38 cents. The boarding house we lived in had an old garage in the backyard. We were very fortunate to be able to use it free of charge! Fritz and I have took the whole thing apart. It took us many months to strip the whole vehicle and the engine, we cleaned and repainted most of it. We installed the newer, overhauled engine and got the old sled running. Yes, Fritz was a great car mechanic and I as a machinist could also hold my own. We drove proudly around with the Essex, even in the mountains west of Sydney. One day we made a trip out west. It was hilly it went quite a bit downhill for quite a long time. The brakes started to get hot and hotter, then getting weaker and we went faster and faster down the long hill. I was at the wheel. I slammed the second gear in and shortly after the first gear. The gearbox mad loud noises, but it was the only way to avoid an accident. Luckily, I got the car under control. A year later we sold the Essex to Reinhard Leimroth, one of the other guests at the Boarding House. Fritz and I then bought a Ford Prefect in 1947. Young (!) compared to the 1927 Essex. Soon after that we bought a 1955 Holden, a General Motors car manufactured in Australia.

The Women in Our Lives

I wrote many letters to France, to my fiancee Cathie. When I wrote her that I love Australia and wanted to stay there and she should join me, she became angry with me. I'm supposed to come back to Europe, she told me. Her father told her that I could have a well paid work at the French uranium mines in southern Algeria, in the Atlas Mountains. I told her, however, that the money is probably OK, but the circumstances are cruel. Uncanny heat in the Sahara, unsafe area, very dangerous circumstances. No thanks, I replied. I would rather stay here in Australia, I told her. She wrote back that her father did not allow her to emigrate to Australia. I asked her if she wanted to get married to her father or to me? She insisted she wants to remain in France. So I broke out in tears and with a heavy heart I sent her back the engagement ring. Thus, this episode was completed. She stayed in France and I stayed in Australia!

Then the time came for our women. We young German immigrants became members of the YMCA 's International Friendship Club. Lucky for us because it is there we met Sonja (later my wife) who knew Anne (later Fritz’s wife), who knew Heather (Jens’ girl friend) and Barbara (later Reinhard’s wife). Lucky for me, Sonja lived not far from us in a house owned by an elderly woman. I visited there often. The old woman did not like me. I do not know why? Still, it did not bother me. The main thing was that Sonja liked me! Then it has "we saw the light." The sparks of love between Sonja and I jumped between us. It was on the beach in Manly, on the northern side of Sydney Harbor. There we went at dusk, after a beautiful sunset, walking on the beach and our two hands touched. As a shiver went down my spine. I got goosebumps and probably my face was red with excitement. I was in love!!! It was not long and Sonja joined me to the boarding house. This was also very practical and much cheaper for the two of us, instead of having to rent two separate places. We were seeing each other almost every day anyhow.

Fritz, who shared a room with me, had to move to another room. That was the end of my meat loaf, which I often cooked for us two. I was responsible for our meals and Fritz for the cleanliness of our room. We often went to the various beaches of Sydney, such as Bondi, Bronte, etc., where we saw many volunteer lifesavers, as often sharks appeared and some times attacked people. Later, the Australian stretched nets across the bays to protect the swimmers. It is noteworthy that sharks actually SAVE people. Why? Because were they are expected to be, people do not swim out that far,.Thus, considerably less drownings occur! In a scale of one to ten! A great sport there was bodysurfing. On small boards the guys raced down the waves and they had much fun.

The Marriage

Yes, yes, after about 6 months Sonja and I were married on 30.12.1961 and soon after Fritz and Anne and Reinhard and Barbara got married. We were each others witnesses at the registry office in Sydney. Then Fritz paid me out and took the Holden and I bought a 1948 Vauxhall (British-GM) with a 6-cylinder in-line engine. It had a beautiful black body with 4 doors and a plush, cloth interior. There were even some strips of mahogany in the interior! Our modest wedding party was in the narrowest circle of our closest friends, at home. Sonja and I had moved out of the boarding house and had rented half a house and sublet a room to Reinhard and Barbara. At the conclusion of our wedding party we played a game called the "four corners." As the hosts (we) could express our wishes. Thus, we requested: The first corner cleans up the place. The second corner had to do the dishes (no dish washer)!. The third corner was to use the vacuum cleaner throughout the apartment. The fourth corner (we) got out of there! We met with Fritz and Anne and Noni and Barry Green in a modest restaurant where we six had a lovely dinner. The next day, Sonja and I took our Vauxhall and left for a short honeymoon of one long week.

The car (actually the engine) used oil like crazy. On the trip we also lost the second gear (one of Three). We slept in the car because the front bench of the Vauxhall could fold back all the way and became a fairly comfortable bed. After a few days we drove passed a motel.  I wanted to be a gentleman and wanted to stay there for one night (we could not afford multiple nights)!. I went in and asked for the price. The motel cost 22 pounds a night and I had only 25 left in my pocket. Thankfully, Sonja said that the motel is way too expensive. So we crept on further and slept in our good old “Vauxy. A few months later, I decided that the motor must be replaced. I bought a used Vauxhall motor that was a little less worn out, and with the help of Fritz we installed it. Then our "Vauxy" ran much, much better.

We celebrated Christmas together often and although it was summer on the beach in Australia in December since we were on the lower hemisphere. It was probably less Christmassy but still lovely, because we could go swimming in the Pacific Ocean...at Christmas!

Since I spoke English quite well, I read from time to time the newspaper and saw an ad for a job at Neptune Engineering for a precision mechanic, who could handle diesel injection pumps. I applied and got the job. They paid 24 pounds a week. Much more (25%) than what the Bosch paid. Fritz remained at Bosch. I had good success there at Neptune Engineering. The work made was fun there. The two sons of the owner worked with me and were impressed that I was able to grind and hone the piston of the injection pumps very precisely. The tolerance was within ten-thousandth of a millimeter. The workshop was almost directly under the famous Sydney Bridge, right on the water. Many a time we shot water rats with air rifles during our short, 30 minute long lunch break. Sonja worked at the brothers Schlosser, a paper converting mill in Sydney.

We often went into the "bush" as the Australians call the hinterland. There once we "conquered" a weekend cottage (cabin), near the Warragamba dam and hydroelectric plant. Fritz, Sonja, Reinhard and a few more emigrants spent several weekends there. We found an aluminum boat on the shore, which we hijacked. One day the owner caught us and got very upset. Understandably so, because we had stolen his boat. So he hid it somewhere else. So we built a raft out of barrels and crossed the river. Nevertheless. After a big rain, we had a huge flood and “our” beloved Waragamba cabin disappeared. The floods had ripped it away.

Once we drove into the “outback” as a group panning for gold. We found an abandoned mine in the hinterland. We stayed in an abandoned church. From the curtains of the church we made gaiters to protect our ankles against poisonous snakes, which are everywhere in Australia. We met an old man who showed us how to wash gold with the pans which we had brought along. Amazingly, We also found some tiny amounts of gold. It was a good souvenir. Those black flies drove us crazy. They were trying to creep into our ears, noses and eyes. They were a real nuisance. So we hung fly screens off our hats. It helped a little.

We also went often to the stunning beaches of Sydney. At a beach north of Sydney, Sonja and Johnny (a friend from Bavaria) were caught by a cross-stream, which drove them out to sea. Fritz helped Johnny and I helped Sonja. I did not want to get too close, because then otherwise we would both drown. I stayed at a distance and called out "swim across the flow." I knew that from my years in Alexandria, Egypt. One learns to swim across to the current, because one is not able to swim against to the flow, towards the shore. After many anxious minutes we were all tired but alive at the beach.

Eventually I learned that Ruslit Motors, the Deutz representative in Sydney, looked for experts with experience with diesel injection pumps. Fritz and I got a good paying job (£22/week plus overtime). There we met Barry Green, an Australian mechanic, who was married to a Dutch girl called Noni. After a year or so Deutz sold 40 trucks to Alltrans a heavy transportation company. They need two technicians who were able to maintain these numerous vehicles. So Barry and I went to Alltrans in Parramatta, a western suburb of Sydney. The address was: 66 Marsden St Parramatta, NSW. The salary was phenomenal: 40 pounds a week! There were no regular working hours, no vacation and no overtime! Barry and I had the responsibility for 60 trucks (Half from International Harvester and half from Deutz). We had to keep them in good shape and that nonstop, around-the-clock. A bonus was for Sonja and me this: we got free an old house provided, which stood on company property, right there were the truck were parked. A disadvantage, however, was that the trucks started already at half past six in the morning and made a big noise. Another problem was that the house was infested with big rats. The previous occupant had a dachshund, which kept the rats in check. We looked for where those beasts were coming into the house and clogged up those holes and passages. So what? We were young and we did not let those critters bother us. Barry and I shared the work fairly. I took the boxes in which the Deutz engines were shipped, and the spare parts that came from Germany, and made furniture such as tables, chairs, cupboards, shelves, etc., from it. Thus, our costs were minimal and we saved like crazy. The previous manager of the fleet was Ron Thomas, who also lived previously in the old house. He had moved to Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia, to a Toyota dealer, where we also went later.

Barry and I were very entrepreneurial. We bought (July 1963) a steam cleaner, with which we were able to clean the engine compartments of trucks and the like. We sold this service to our own company Alltrans, which owned all these trucks. We also cleaned trucks of other people. So we made a little money on the side. A portion the profit we invested time in a large purchase of cheap tires. There were about 120 truck tires, we could buy them for a-tenth of the market price. Piece by piece we sold the tires under the hand, for a large profit. One evening, it was probably already 11 clock at night, someone knocked on the door of our “rat house”. For safety, I took my small caliber rifle and prepared it before, just in case. I opened the door. Two big men stood there in long, dark coats, with dark hats, and said they were from the Secret Police. I almost shit into my pants! They came into our house and told me that I have stolen tires on sale, and that is illegal in Australia! After a long back and forth they told me indirectly that if I give them something under the table (a bribe) then they will cover up the matter. Should this affair come to court then they would testify favorably for me? The judge, they said, wanted a "baksheesh“ (bribe)? They wanted to know who was my partner? I did not tell them because I did not think Barry would cough up that information! After a few weeks I paid them what they wanted. They wanted to know where the remaining tires were. I told them to get rid of them. Then I never heard from them again which: Thanks goodness. That was the first and only "criminal" action that I've made in my entire life. Never again! It is better to make you money with honest, hard work!

Here's a letter to my mother, about 11 July 1963. Posted by Sonja:

(Thanks to my Mom, she kept most of our letters and gave them to me many years later, so I could use them for my autobiography)

"Beloved, today, a Saturday, I find finally, after many weeks, time to write to you. The last few weeks Hans and I have had a lot to do. First of all, we have moved. As you may know, we have moved into another house, which we share with friends (Leimroth, Reinhard and Barbara). We did this because otherwise the rent would have been to high for us alone. When our contract expired, we decided not to renew it but to look for a new home. Hans’s company Alltrans, made us the proposal to live in the house, which is included on the property in Parramatta, where Hans works. Of course, this has its advantages and disadvantages. First of all, Hans is now fair game. The drivers and the mechanic come at any time for help, on the other hand we did get the house for free, in other words, we do not need to pay any rent, and one has just to accept such an offer, right? In addition, electrical power is free and gas consumption is very low in the winter because we have an electric heater, which consumes quite a bit of power. However, we will live in this house only for about 8 weeks then again, we move. Yes, again. Hans’s company has bought a large plot of land in the countryside, where they want to build and move the whole company. What we do until then, who knows, we do not know. For now, we stay in this house. To call it “home” is a bit exaggerated. Rather, it is a dump and a gathering for those darn hordes of rats. Every evening we have a Mickey Mouse movie for free. Yesterday, I was sitting comfortably in the living room, Hans was working outside and I hear a noise in the kitchen. First, I thought that one of the workers was getting a drink of water, since outside it was very hot. As the noise did not go away, I made my way to the kitchen on tiptoes. There sat this huge, fat rat on the table and nibbled on some food scraps, which we had missed to clean up. Instead to run away, it looked at me astounded. I was furious. When I took another step toward it, it jumped off the table, gleamed back at me, and began to slide on the smooth linoleum floor. The critter was so excited and in a hurry that it did not look where it was going. It did not find its exit hole and thus it slammed with full force into the wall. That was funny. I laughed out loud. Another time I came with a pile of dishes from the living room, Hans opened the door for me and here comes a small rat, which could not hide so quickly and almost ran over my feet. I nearly dropped all those dishes. How lucky am I that I now I have gotten used to these cute little animals, otherwise we would have lost all our dishes. You certainly think: Why don’t they set up some traps? Because I can tell you, these rats are much too smart for this. The traps it do not release. The rats take the bacon very carefully and laugh at us. Finally we, really Hans, has found another trick. He has made friends with the neighbor 's cat and now plays the Pied Piper of Hamelin, without a flute. The cat now visits us regularly and keeps the rats at bay. Blame the previous occupants of this old house for this rat problem. When I came into the kitchen for the first time, I was almost got sick, and that means something. Such a mess I've never found anywhere. The first thing that was done was clean and clean and clean. Then I painted everything. Since this is the first time I had a paint brush in my hand, you can imagine the outcome. Nevertheless, it had its intended effect. At least now everything smells like paint instead of garbage. Even the toilet was cleaned up and painted, nothing was spared. Hans thought it was funny. Also the toilet lid was painted with wall paint. In any case, it now looks a little better. Then, as I said, another 8 weeks and then it goes back to looking for another place to stay. Mail or any other matters please send to the following address: Mr. Barry Green, 188 Queen Street, Concord West, NSW, Australia. These are friends of ours who bought a house, in other words have a permanent, stable home. Eventually Hans will leave this company because the new location is too far away. It is about 2 hours away from the city.

We have already made a few plans, but all are vague. Maybe, just maybe, we'll go to New Zealand, I would have nothing against it. Well, wait and see.”

The compromise


Sonja very much wanted to return to Germany. She had an aunt in Hamburg, of which she was very fond. This Aunt "Lieschen" had said to Sonja that she will inherit her house in Hamburg. I was not willing to go back to Germany. We concluded that we need to find a compromise: OK, we will go back to Germany but not necessarily forever. 

Therefore, we must:

A) Buy return tickets (not one-way ones)!

B) Before leaving Australia we should buy a piece of land in Sydney (So we can build our dream house once we 're back! ?).

So we saved like mad to buy two return tickets. Then it did not take too long and we bought a small but beautiful piece of land for a single family home in a quiet, residential suburb of Sydney. So we were ready to travel to Germany. Before all that we went to Darwin in the " Northern Territory".

Darwin, Northern Territory. 1964

One day we received a call from the Ron Thomas (the previous occupant of the “rat house” in Parramatta) from Darwin. He offered me a job as a motor mechanic in Darwin. Since we were not sure whether we would come back to Australia from Germany or ever come to Darwin, we accepted the offer. I bought us an old, gray Volkswagen Beetle (circa 1949) with standard gear box (not synchronized)! and slowly I upgraded it for the long trip to Darwin (Circa 3000 miles, or 5000 km). I built a roof rack and an enlarged, front bumper, since one could expect to run into to a kangaroo. I took out the rear seats to make more room. The front seats’ backs of “Volksy” could be taken out easily by their holding bracket and laid down flat. With the front seats slid to very front and the backs down, we had a fairly comfortable “bed” inside the car. To let some fresh air come into the car, I've fabricated mosquito nets that fit into the open windows. So we could sleep with the windows open and breathe fresh air. In the heat up there in the tropical north you could use this aeration very good. I made a roof rack and covered it with some wood planks. Up there we could stow most of our “stuff”. You know, the Volksy never had much of a trunk! We took along some spare water bottles, a motor oil can, two spare tires and some plastic sheeting and lots of duct tape. I was told that it is quite common that one looses the cars front windshield due to flying rocks. The plastic sheeting would help one to get fairly safely to the next garage. We had to have a gas canister also because one stretch along this trip had no gas stations for some 500 miles!

We bought two return tickets from an Italian cruise ship company "Sitmar Lines" and drove off to Darwin.We drove north along the East coast to Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. Half way there the road was getting narrow. In many places it was only one lane wide. One had to take half the car onto the side strips, which were not paved. Therefore, many stones flew into the air. Shortly before Brisbane the windshield shattered, hit by a stone. I had already read about it, that this misfortune happens often on these rough, unpaved roads. I took the thin plastic sheeting and with a lot of self-adhesive duct tape I stuck the preliminary windshield into place and drove many miles to the next garage that could help us. After driving some 150 miles we finally found a small town with a garage. However, it was Sunday and the owner/mechanic was out of town. I asked his wife if she had a spare windshield for my old clunker VW? Yes, she said. During those years the VW was the most popular car in Australia. It is build very robust and the air-cooled engine did not need any water, a scarcity in those areas. I asked her if she had ever replaced a windshield. She replied that she has helped her husband many times. S I told her to help me replace the windshield. She got all the necessary tools and, voila, we replaced the windshield. She would tell me what to do and followed her instructions. We were very thankful and drove away without having lost too much valuable time.

Here is a short essay which I wrote after arriving in Darwin, around the 15th of March 1964:


Trip from Sydney to Darwin. ~3000 miles. ~ 5000 Km.

The Volksy ran and ran and ran. Although it had already covered many grueling miles the car rattled little and everything worked quite well. Since we had little space I stowed a 4-liter (1 Gallon) can of motor oil back in the engine compartment. Well, the Volksy ate  a bit more oil than usual, having had some 80,000 miles on its back! Halfway to Brisbane, the capital of the Australian province of Queensland, I looked into the rear view mirror and I saw some smoke rising in the back window. I stopped and examined the situation. Low and behold, the smoke came from the engine compartment. The oil had leaked a little, due to the frequent shaking of the car on the unpaved road. The cloth which I had placed on top of the oil canister, had become saturated with oil and the oil fumes ignited by the heat engine. Luckily, it only scorched, there was no flame. I discarded the culprit and the matter was fixed, and on we went farther north.

In another part of the journey, where I was roaring at about 80 kmh (50 mph), I saw something at the top to the windshield in front of me. What is this, I wondered? Slowly the unrecognizable thing was getting bigger and disturbed my forward vision. I stopped and looked at this strange phenomenon. It was a dead hawk that flew between the roof rack and the roof of the car and was killed there. Thus the hawk slowly slid down the windshield. The poor thing. I had not even noticed that that bird had flown into our car rack?

A few more hundred miles further I avoided an oncoming car that proudly was driving in the middle of the road. That guy was much bigger. Thus, I gave in! This is common on this stretch. The road is not wide enough for 2 vehicles. So when one meets other cars it is common that each one drives half off the road. This is how stones are hurled into the air from the tires. That’s how a stone smashed our windshield. That is why I had the plastic sheeting and the tape along. Clever, hey?

We kept on driving. A cyclone was in the North, near Mackay and Townsville, and we felt the strong winds. The storm also brought tons of rain. So we rented a caravan on a campsite near Mackay. Previously we had stayed in our little tent or Volksy. We stayed there for 3 days and subsequently celebrated our honeymoon, which we had just 2 years before. Then we were very short on money and could not be generous with our money. You know, who is in love, does not ask for much!

The Volkswagen was an ideal vehicle for these northern Australian roads. The VW was very popular in Australia for many years, until dethroned by the Mini Cooper. From Townsville we headed inland, the famous "Outback" what the Australians call "the bush." The route to Mount Isa, a mining town for uranium was long and unpaved, that one had to have extra gas cans. There were no gas stations for more than 700 Km! (~430 miles). Since the situation was very precarious we took some precautions and have sent our 3 big suitcases by train to Mt. Isa. We could not send them any further, since that was as far as the train went! Yes, the north of Australia was not very developed then. 

Professor Porsche had designed a good car. Without difficulty our Volksy, often driven with up to 100 Km/h (60 mph) on dirt roads, through streams, over nonexistent roads or some that were washed away, really over hill and valley. During this arduous trip we slept in our car. There, it was almost unbearable when in the North the black flies were biting us like crazy when we gave them the slightest chance, such as when we had to pee. So we went as long and as fast as we could to get to our destination and to be away from the annoying flies. There were no street signs, no nothing. When we arrived in Mt Isa, were we glad! We are stopped at a bowling club, which was air-conditioned. We took a shower to wash away the kilos of heavy dust and sand off us. Then we had a simple but filling dinner and a beer. We called Ron in Darwin to tell him that we are on our way. Mt Isa is a mining town. One earned a lot there, but the living conditions are catastrophic. Even uranium is mined there. On a puny river which had dried up, we found a dusty campsite. We tried to sleep in the tent. But could not. It was so hot, even at night, that one would not stop sweating. The mosquitoes buzzed around us and sang their song loudly into our ears. Without having a little shut eye we whizzed on in the morning at 4 clock. What a surprise: The road was concreted, like half of a highway. They told us later that the Americans had built this road during the Second World War to bring material and weapons to the North. The Japanese had attacked Darwin in 1941 (bombed) and wanted to conquer the city. It was then destroyed by 80% by the bombing! Lucky for the Australians, the Americans came to help. Up there in the North they also do not build many bridges because they cost too much for the meager traffic. Interestingly, on this road we saw giant truck-trains with 2 or 3 trailers. They were road trains! After 6 days we were near Darwin and we could not continue because everything was flooded. Luckily, good old Ron Thomas came to the rescue with a Toyota jeep and dragged us through the flooded streams. Our friend Ron had heard of the floods and came to us with a jeep to meet us in Katherine, about 320 kilometers south of Darwin. He pulled us with a long rope through a few flooded creeks and then we chugged dutifully behind him. Once we had to use a railway bridge to drive on because the river was too high to be driven through. Finally we made it to Darwin with Ron's help. We stayed for 2 weeks in a house that Ron had borrowed us. It was a government official’s house who was on vacation. (Great, yeah! No rent!) In Darwin we rented a small, old house that stood on post because of potential flooding and termites. Our address in Darwin was 9 Allen St. Fannie Bay.

Since I was German and drove a Volkswagen, I had no problem to find a job at a car repair shop. I cheated my way through with many small repairs on different VW Beetles. VW gives their repair shops defined times for specific repairs. So two months later I had a VW engine to fully overhaul, within the time prescribed by VW. I had never done this kind of work. I could not do it right away and took a lot more time than prescribed. The stupid motor housing did not want to fit properly. I was fired on the spot. That was the first and only time in my life that I have been fired. I packed up my tool box and immediately called my buddy Ron at Toyota. He offered me a job on the spot. (You just have to be lucky!!!) He explained that 25 new Toyota jeeps had just arrived from Japan and all of them had the wrong differential gear ratios. Thus the differentials had to be dismantled, the correct gears installed and finely tuned and then reassembled. So I was working for months to install the new set of bevelled gears, which had to be carefully lapped-in so that they run smoothly and properly. The tolerances for those gears were only a few tenthousends of a millimeter. Here my apprenticeship in Germany as a fitter & turner came to good use! In between I was also working on Mercedes Benz cars. Their dual carburetors were very fussy and difficult to adjust properly. Then, my intuition and training helped me often. Customers with Mercedes Benzes praised me often, because their car never ran that good before. In German we call it “Fingerspitzengefühl”, which means “finger-tip-feeling”.

The Safari Camp in the Northern Territory

In Darwin we met Sue Shaw. She also had a VW Beetle, but a much newer one. One times she lent to us her Beetle for a trip into the bush to a safari camp called Frank. There we went fishing and crocodile and goose hunting. On one goose hunt Frank drove us to a large clearing in the bush where a huge flock of geese were in about 150 meters (~500 feet)! away on the edge of a large pond. He drove his Sonja, armed with two shotguns, to the other side of the pond. From there, he gave me the signal to fire my small caliber rifle so that the flock of geese would fly up. That's what I did. I blindly aimed into the distant flock of gees and fired. Hundreds of geese flew up high towards Frank and Sonja. The two then shot their shot guns like crazy on the geese, but none came down! I looked back towards where I had shot to scare them. There, a white animal was lying on the ground. I wondered what it was? We went there, and lo and behold: A silly goose lay there ... shot ... through the neck! One evening we ate a Warramundi fish, which Camp Director Frank had prepared for us. The Big Fish (8 kg ~ 18 lbs)) was packed in clay and baked in the embers of a campfire. That fish was heavenly good. On the way back we drove through bush-fire without damaging the beautiful car. An excited, wild water buffalo was threatening us, standing there in the middle of the road and the fire was not too far away. Thus, the behemoth was very nervous. Fortunately, it moved away on its own, before I made ​​in my pants. We brought the car undamaged to Sue. We told her nothing about the bush fires and the darn buffalo!

We also went one time with Sue and Ron on a water buffalo hunt. He had to deliver a Toyota Jeep to a farmer living deep in the bush. So we went with 2 jeeps to have one for the ride home. With an old British army rifle that Ron had lent me, I shot a wild water buffalo. Ron had invited the natives to slaughter the beast and they got the meat as a reward. Sue, being a nurse, gave Sonja an anatomy class and showed her the tongue and other organs of the buffalo. Then she pointed at Sonja 's heart, and other visa versa. Amazingly it should be noted that the water buffalo is not related to cattle but with instead with pigs. That's why they never succeeded to cross the buffalo with cattle. We were told that a university in Melbourne had tried this in vain.

Back to Sydney

We met a German guy in Darwin (Horst Koehler) know who could not tolerate the hot humid, tropical climate of Darwin. So he wanted to move to Brisbane, QL where the climate is milder. He had a taxi company and wanted two of his vehicles (One Holden from GM and one Mercedes Benz) to be brought to Brisbane. Sonja and I agreed to go along, by driving one of his cars and he could drive the other one. The 3,500 km (~2,200 miles) long journey began on 25.10.1964. On the way we drove many hundreds of miles through desert and steppe. Once we took a break and Horst opened the trunk of his Mercedes. We were surprised at what we saw there. Everything was full of dust. This dust was so fine that it went everywhere, even in the trunk of a Mercedes, where it was known that these luxury cars would be very dust-tight. Even the luggage he had in his trunk were full of dust! On the way we came to a dusty crossing. A half - dead tree had two "dingoes" hanging, dead of course. The farmers hated these wild Australian dogs because they chased the cattle and sometimes killed them. A trophy was on these disgusting beasts. In three days we were in Brisbane. From there Sonja and I took the train to Sydney and we prepared ourselves for our planned trip home to Germany.

The Italian cruise ship "Fairsky" belonged to the Sitmar Line. It left Sydney on the 11th of November 1964. That was the beginning of Carnival (Mardis Gras) in Germany!

The luxury cruise ship Fairsky had just come from Japan where it had brought the Italian Olympic team there for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. As a result, we had a very large crew, including many of the best chefs from Italy. In addition, the ship was not full of passengers. So we had an Imperial service. From Sydney, the first leg of our cruise went in the wrong direction (east), to Oakland, New Zealand. There we took a bus tour around the area of Oakland. We continued west past Melbourne, Victoria, and crossed the Tasman Sea on 13.Nov.1964. On we sailed passed Perth (Western Australia), then diagonally across the Indian Ocean where we got to Aden (now Yemen) on the 10. of December 1964. We had beautiful festivals and celebrations on the ship and again we had a crossing of the equator ceremony. Then we went though the Red Sea and through the Suez Canal. It was a wonderful cruise. We had good weather, interesting  passengers, wonderful food, wine, beer and whiskey. Heavenly! We sailed, partied, danced and simply lived the "high life." The service was exceptionally good. We were treated like royalty. The many chefs who were on board made ​​daily beautiful ice sculptures for the enjoyment of the passengers. 

We had a deal with the shipping company to leave the ship in Port Said, Egypt, on the northern end of the Suez Canal, to come back six weeks later, to catch the next ship of the same shipping company to Italy. During those 6 weeks I wanted to show Sonja Alexandria, my birthplace, the beautiful Mediterranean City. That was the plan. And when you have a plan you finally have something to change!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ubi Bene Ubi Casa  

(Home is where life is good!)

Chapter IV


                                              The return migration from Australia to Germany

Port Said, Egypt. December 1964

Below are copies of our trip report from that time, which I had sent to my mother: 

She was so good to keep these letters. After her death, I got my old mail back and could use it to refresh my memory! Great Mama! Thank you very much! 

Here are the transcripts of our trip reports: (Also Sonja wrote that !)

Early in the morning of December 17. 1964 our ship, coming from Australia, we arrived in Port Said, Egypt. Despite the late hour, the Arab merchants were rowing their tiny boats to our cruise ship and filled the cool evening air with shouts in Arabic, English, German and all sorts of other languages ​​and shouting loud to draw the money out of the pockets of the passengers. The agents of those merchants had already been smuggled on board and ropes flew from the rowing boats up to the various promenade decks. At the end of the rope they had attached baskets, in which the merchants hauled their goods on board. In midst of this chaotic atmosphere, which was a little more subdued inside the ship, we took leave of our friends, which we had met on board. They planned to go on to Southampton, England. We were together on this voyage for about 3 weeks from Sydney to Port Said!

In the grim darkness of the night we boarded a launch at the side of our ship. A Lebanese woman joined us because she intended to take another ship from Port Said to Beirut, Lebanon. Also two Greek sailors came along, who planned to take another ship to Greece. The launch started slowly to bug towards the docks. Unfortunately, it began to rain lightly. The scene was perfect. About a dozen Egyptians were with us on the tiny barge. They All were trying to  discreetly figure out who we were. Preying eyes everywhere. They watched us from the corner of their eyes. Of course that did not much for our sense of safety. Where are our bags it flew through my head. I looked around to locate them. As I saw them, over there they are in the corner, I thought, then, a little calmed down I sank back into my thoughts. One or two of the better-dressed Egyptians, probably customs or port officials, were grinning as they looked at us. It seems that they were thinking "Another bunch of these Europeans who do not trust anybody!" To be honest, it was also what I felt.

After l5 minutes, which seemed to us like an hour, the launch stopped at the docks. We disembarked and chugged towards a large building that was very dimly lit. In the half-light I saw a few Arabs that broke away from the group and came to the pier where we had landed.  They unloaded the bags immediately and promptly I had to intervene because, without any explanation, they moved away with our luggage. Slowly, slowly , I yelld, where do you want to go? Surprisingly they stopped. I had talked to them in Arabic! Quickly, a large group of Arabs listened up and one tall guy came towards us. We, with our 1.70 cm (5’6”), looked up to his at least 1.90 m ( 6’3”) inches height. He was impressive. He had a well-formed hooked nose. His unshaven and unwashed face was decorated at the top by a dark white turban. The feeling of trust trust immediatley escaped us. With self-confidence and a calm tone he told us in English that we need not to worry about anything, because for a small “backsheesh” (tip) he would organize the whole affair. Nevertheless, I left the luggage with Sonja and I completed the formalities. The vaccination certificates were checked, stamped and off we went back to the customs building. The declarations to be filled out in triplicate, which were printed in Arabic and in French.  Our giant Arab was always at my side. Actually, it was not so clear what function he fulfilled, for he wore no uniform, but only a "Gallabeyah" (Koftan). Since it was winter, he also wore an ex-Navy coat. He had no armband that said that he is in the service of customs. Moreover, he himself said nothing about his identity. Most emphasis he put on the money, the " baksheesh"! He always wanted to know how much money I have. It was then an important formality in Egypt that you had to accurately report how much money you had with you. The big old fellow had a good disguise and a way of determining what interested him most. I thought that maybe he could not read English so well and wrote the amount I had with me but declaring only about a quester of what I actually had. I did not want him to think that it will we worth his while to rob me later on.

So we officially declared and entered with 150 U.S. dollars into the VAR (United Arab Republic). That is how Egypt was called then. (Together with Syria, they had formed

the “United Arab Republics” in order to become stronger. This union fell apart a few years later.

Later I learned that the government requires that you must declare all the foreign money that you have on yourself. This allows you to change the money only in the banks at the official rate and the black market, where you get more than twice the amount, is suppressed. We were told that if you would get caught exchanging foreign currency on the black market they would throw in jail for a while! After the paperwork was done we only lacked the stamp of the Lord Inspector of the customs department.

Then the customs agents started to open all the suitcases. The two Greek sailors were ahead of us when I got to the customs clearance. The atmosphere was charged as the sailor spoke only Greek, and they did not understand the inspector who only spoke Arabic. The Egyptians became angry when he found 12 Palmolive soaps in one of the Greek’s suitcase. The customs agent said that he could have only 10 soaps. The Sailor was agitated and refused to agree. The agent then kept on digging in the sailers’ luggage and found 8 chocolate bars. He told the sailor that only 5 bars are allowed. The sailor got madder. He started to be loud and explained that those chocolate bars are for his kids in Greece for Christmas.  The customs agent then went through all the things that the Greeks. He dug into the suitcase, turned the pockets of suits and jackets inside out, turned the legs of the pants inside-out, unfolded all the shirts and so on. So, he harassed the Greeks! The sailor bit his teeth and had tears of anger ... but he was powerless. After an hour of shouting and yelling I told the Sailor that is is useless to argue with the customs agent because he can do whatever he wants and possibly confiscate the whole lot of soaps and chocolate bars. I persuaded the Sailor to give away about half the stuff he had and finalize the situation. He finally did and the customs agents grinned happily and thanked me for talking sense into the Greek.

So it happened that when it was our turn, we had a nervous, bad-tempered customs officials before us. He opened all our bags immediately without asking, and smiled at him innocently . He was immediately approached by me in Arabic, and he wanted to know first where I had learned the language. Talking he began to rummage through our bags and immediately he took our two packs of nougat which were on top. What is this? He asked immediately suspicious? Without hesitation, we invited him to open it and try some! We had hardly spoken and the package was opened up and gently he pushed a piece into his mouth. Hmmm, that tastes good he slurred, his mouth full, and so gradually began to relax and a faint smile appeared on his face. Surely you have children, we asked? Take both packets of Nougat for them! From there on he barely looked at our other suitcases. He licked his lips and closed gently all suit cases and said “Kollo Quayess” , which means “all is well”. Then, the customs stamp rushed to the paper and we were done! One has to realize that those customs people are as poor as a church mouse. They earn very little and never have any chocolate or fine soap.

In the meantime, it was 3 a.m. in the morning! And we were tired like sled dogs after a 100 Km run. We were tired, cold and freezing. The next train to Alexandria, our planned destination, was only at 8 a.m. one guy said, another said at 6:30 a.m. An old man said he knew a good hotel, not too expensive, not far away from here. We were so cold that we would almost agree with everything and said OK! Those Arabs started to argue who would carry our luggage to the Hotel, each one eager to do the job to earn a tip. An old guy came around and pointed to his old, two-wheeled cart. He offered to cart our luggage to the Hotel for a reasonable fee. His two-wheeled cart was probably a hundred years old. I negotiated with the crooks how much should probably cost ? The old guy loaded our suitcase onto his antique cart. As usual, they shouted more than they spoke, all at the same time. In the excitement of the situation Sonja thought the guy wanted steal our belongings, and began to unload the suitcases again! With much shouting I was made aware of it and so the luggage came back onto the cart. Is there a taxi here I asked? No, all replied at the same time, not at this time of the day! So our strange caravan walked and stumbled through the dark streets of Port Said! When I saw a couple of policemen on patrol, I calmed down a bit. Furthermore, the two Greek sailors came to the same hotel, so we were not quite so powerless! But suddenly a taxi drove by and the driver offered to give us a lift. Immediately the shouting and bickering started right away. Seeing the taxi I shouted to those Arabs “You have lied to us you sons of bitches! You so and so! (I could swear quite well in Arabic!). So I yelled and wanted to take the taxi, but the sailors, who knew Port Said already calmed me down and assured me that the taxi drivers were even worse criminals! So we stomped and walked, followed by about 5 or 6 Arabs who wanted to have more money, to the hotel, or what was then called in Egypt a "hotel"! We rang the bell and the manager came to the door after a long 10 minutes. He was still half asleep. What's going on he asked! We asked what a room would cost ? He looked at us with sleepy eyes and told us the price, which was reasonable. We rented two rooms. One for Sonja and I and one for the Greek sailors. The old hotel was a reasonably clean hole, and for 2 hours of sleep it was the best we could get.

The sailors took the room next to ours, but they could at least sleep! For safety's sake , and there were only a few hours of sleep that we could get, we stayed fully dressed except for our shoes! (Please excuse us!) We did not get much sleep because there were strange noises in the hallway, all night, or morning, long.

Still, I must tell you that before we entered the hotel all those Arabs wanted to have some money. Not only the old guy who deserved the charge for carting our luggage,but also all those other guys who did nothing to earn a tip. Our old cart-guy told me, "The Greeks have no money, so you have to pay! How much, I asked him gently? The  shrewd guy said three pounds!

I could remember, that was the weekly salary of a worker! So the bargaining and arguments started again! His main argument was the payment of the launch that brought us from the ship to the pier. This was a complete lie! I learned later, that the launch was state-owned and thus a free service for the tourists. When I pressed the old man an Egyptian pound and a few Australian coins in his hand he realized that he can be happy!

We woke up at 6 a.m. and with a big jump we hopped out of bed. Right away and woke the hotel caretaker, paid the bill and off we went to the train station by taxi. I made a big mistake by not asking for the price before hand. So I had to argue in front of the railway station about the price. It is hair raising that one has to constantly has to argue and haggle about the price because those Arabs always want to take advantage of those silly tourists. Usually the taxis are supposed to have a taximeter in Egypt, but no one could or would tell me why exactly Port Said had not any!

At the station we were told that the train does not leave until at 7.45 a.m. and the tickets are not sold before a 7 a.m. So we sat on the icy imitation marble bench (cool in summer, but too cold in winter?) until the train arrived. Fortunately the train arrived on time. We traveled third class not only to save money but also to experience how the Egyptians live. The train was dilapidated. Most of the windows could not be closed. The doors opened reluctantly and the paint was peeling off everywhere. Rust and corrosion ruled like a king (or rather dictator ?). The train was probably 100 years old, left there by the British, when they left in 1952. You have to give it to the Egyptians, their trains were always very punctual. Exactly to the minute the train left the station for the 220 ​​Km voyage to Alexandria, covered in 5.5 hours. The trip went for a while along the Suez Canal then up to Ismailia, Tanta and Zagazig. Both places are located in the very fertile planes of the Nile Delta.

In the train we marveled at the indigenous Saiidi and the Fellahin and Bedouins. They were always grinning when they saw that a few Europeans traveled third class, where they are usually always seen only in the first. But in the first class one can not see and experience these people. Because in first class you would be sitting there all alone, or perhaps with other tourists. But on the whole train we were the only foreigners, except that in Ismailia two young Swedish hikers with backpacks boarded the train. Not to forget to mention is the price difference from one class to another. It nearly doubled from class to class, and so it is that the third class was almost a quarter of the first!

Shortly before 2 p.m. we arrived in Alexandria. At last the sun shone again and our tired bodies warmed up a little again.

Finally I was back where I wanted to go again since my childhood! It was exactly 13 years ago, that I had left Alexandria. My childhood memories awoke again. I looked around me, yes, I said, this is the "Masr" Station (Masr is “Egypt“ in Arabic) from where we used to take the train as children to our popular beach in Aboukir. In 1951 it was the  last summer we spent in Alexandria. Without asking for the price we hired a taxi to bring us to the suburb where we used to live, called “Moharram Bey”. There, my dream came true. At age 13 I left the beloved Alexandria, and since then I had the desire to return and to wander around again, where I romped around as a young rascal. The area had not changed much, many villas have disappeared and have been replaced by apartment blocks. The tram network was extended (but still the same paths of times gone by!) The grocery stores are still there, a few more have been added, the dealer are still the same, the older ones replaced by his two sons. All the faces were still there that I had seen in my youth. Only the names had slipped my mind.

My expectation was that the shops would have grown larger after the detrimental economics of the likes of King Farouk, whose reign ended some 12 years ago! Only one in 20 stores had freshly painted walls and windows and was slightly improved. The others were just like 13 years ago and then they were already like 40 years old! Their scales were new! But no progress because the government had set the units of weight from the Arabic Okka to international Kg. To notice is that the new scales were all made in countries of the Eastern Bloc. (General Nasser was the ruler now and he sided with the Communist Soviet Union). The greatest change was seen in the school system. Where you looked were schools. Large, multistory villas of ex-Beys and Pashas of the former rich and aristocrats have been converted to schools. The fight against illiteracy is in full swing. The policy of the lack of education of the previous rulers here comes fully to the fore. The increase in students in the last 10 years is about 350%!

The nationalization is in full swing. All industrial plants with a capital value of £ 10,000 and more have been nationalized. This year (1964), all buildings are to be nationalized. The nationalization limit of buildings has been reduced from 10,000 to 5,000 pounds. A complete import ban is set up, and Egypt is desperately trying to produce everything themselves. When something needs to be imported then a request is to be made to the Government and it determines whether and to what amount it could be imported. 

For example: State-owned textile mills suffer a catastrophic shortage of needles. All machines will have to be shut down due to the lack of needles and Spare parts. This is done not only with one machine but with whole groups of machines. Add to that the Arab instinct to steal anything no matter if it is valuable or not. One company I know of one time ordered 5,000 pounds of needles to cover their 2-year requirement. The Office of imports has found it completely enough to supply only 500 pounds of needles.

This is how communism works: The control of the economy is centralized. Bureaucrats decide what the country needs. If they think the economy needs nails, they produce tons of nails. Then screws are not available because nails were ordered by the bureaucrats. It goes then vice versa: If they decide that screws are needed, they produce screws and no nails are available. This also increases corruption. If you want to get something that the bureaucrats had not on order, you bribe them and voila, they order that stuff for you.

These and other similar incidents prompted a German engineer, after 3 years and an excellent income of 1,300 pounds (3,000 DM), to leave the country, because of futility and one senseless paradox after another!

Another example, a German journalist told us that in Cairo, it was found that public buses were wearing out unusually fast. They had a rule that the driver has to bear a certain percentage of the cost of the repair. The night before the day on which the new rules should enter into force, the drivers had "prepared" their buses. Results: None of the buses left the next morning the depot, since they were damaged. Of course the driver was innocent (!) Because he just came to work and already something was wrong with the bus. So he could not be held responsible. For a day Cairo was without buses! Thus, they adopted a new regulation: Who has the least repairs at the end of each month, gets a bonus. Immediately the amount of wear came down, for the drivers took care of their buses much better.

For most of the day, the buses are hopelessly overloaded, people are hanging outside the doors, standing on the steps, like grapes on the vine. I have repeatedly counted how many guys were hanging outside the buses. It came to about 14 to 15 people! If you were sitting in the inside, then I am sure that you get a good idea that sardines have it more convenient.

We were very fortunate to have been able to stay with Nitsa, ex Tenedios, our Greek friends and neighbors from our times in Alexandria. After settling down in her apartment in the Daira Sef-el-Din, we started to visit the sights of Alexandria. It proved to be a big help having all the material that we had received from the local tourist office. The state tourist office was very well organized. You can get a lot of information in about 5 or 6 languages. Here one must mention that the tourists are treated very friendly and accommodating. Even the young rascals that like to harass the tourists, were admonished by the elders and sometimes they were kicked in their butts. Also, a special police squadron is in use, which is charged in particular with the protection of tourists. The great joy was that they took no tips, and that should mean something in Egypt!

We visited the Greco-Roman catacombs of Korn-el-Schukafa, which is located in one of the oldest parts of the city of Alexandria. It is a Roman tomb that has been carved entirely into the sandstone and has an age of about 2,ooo years. Originally, it has gone up to a depth of 43 m (120’), but by the raising of the water level by the first Aswan dam, one of the 3 floors filled with mud. Today it is only 27 meters (74’) deep and is now composed of the remaining two floors.

In the remaining part there is still space for 600 coffins. The coffins are let down by a rope through a shaft of about 4 m (13’) in diameter, to each floor, after which they are inserted into their respective niche in the wall. This tomb of the ancient Romans was discovered by chance in 1922. Namely by the collapse of the ground under the weight of a farmer on a donkey-drawn cart.

We also visited the grave of Caligula. (12 AD Roman Emperor.) It is located almost at the same place. We were told that the emperor was slightly deranged and thought he had no friends, and his only friends were his horses. So he requested to be buried together with his mummified 2 best and most beautiful horses. So, of course a huge grave had to be created at this depth.These catacombs are superbly constructed, because they have provided water pipes, to supply the workers down there, and later at the funeral the mourners, who also went down into the grave by rope. The stairs we were using were especially made for the tourists at a much later date. Air ducts were also carved into the grave, to supply the people with oxygen.

They discovered tons of shards, on the square above the tomb, beneath which were the catacombs and found no explanation… why? But then when they discovered the tomb they found the answer. After a funeral a funeral feast was conducted, whereby they ate their own food and drinks. The vessels in which the food was brought was then smashed on the floor. From time to time, they had to be removed from the tomb and they were then hoisted up from 43 or 27 meters and thrown on a heap. In the centuries thereafter the debris formed a small hill that gave the district its name name: Kom-el- Schekafa,  (mountain of debris).

On the way back into town we visited Pompey's Pillar (column). (Pompey , Roman statesman and general, 106 BC.) It's a huge tomb in the middle of which stands an imposing granite column. The column consists of the famous Aswan granite and has a diameter of 2 m (6.6’) and is 21 m (69’) long, and out of a single rock. Various minor sphinxes were placed in its vicinity all of them lacking noses, and, once again the theory was proven that Napoleon and his cohorts had the noses cut off of all sphinxes in Egypt. There were more catacombs in Alexandria, but the most important ones we had seen and are also described here.

It is inevitable, actually a must, to visit to the bazaar on Mohamed Ali Square, the Midan Orabi, as it is now known today. In the middle of the square, stands proud the liberator of Egypt, the Turkish Sultan Mohamed Ali, however, as he was then a friend of England he is now replaced by former England - hater Orabi, ideologically only. Because when they wanted to demolish the beautiful monument the people of Alexandria were opposed to it and so the great Mohamed Ali remained standing proudly, and the government and the city saved a lot money and have not lost this beautiful, historic tourist attraction.

At one end of the square starts the time immemorial bazaar. Through a very narrow alley, which is thereby made ​​even narrower that traders reveal their showcases on the street, you walk into the real Orient. The air is filled with the scent, not the big wide world, but the anti - fly glowing incense. It is not a bad smell but just unfamiliar. The light has to fight to get into this alley. Blankets, towels, bags, plates , carpets, jewelry, curtains and a few thousand more things hanging everywhere, but really everywhere.

The nice thing about this bazaar is that it is not quite adapted to tourists. One sees many Alexandrines make their purchases there. The passionate haggling with their own countrymen is everywhere, to bargain for a fair price. People are also not too intrusive, most are indeed busy selling the goods they produce. The saddler sits there and sews the bags that he has in the shop window.

You can watch as the Egyptians make ornate embroidery by hand, and the goldsmiths, sitting behind a glass window, making beautiful jewelry, and as prepared spices, dried and mixed, can be admired in person.

Everything possible and some impossible is offered for sale, from cheap metal 

medallions to the valuable and Ornate silver and gold jewelry.

We walked past a saddler and I looked at him because his face seemed familiar. The saddler in turn, looked back as I was passing his shop. He said loudly, "Are you Hansi?" I looked back stupefied when I heard my nickname from the mouth of an Arab. Yes, yes, I replied instinctively in Arabic, and he began to grin. It turned out that he knew my father, who had spent 32 years in Egypt, and so he knew me as well. Automatically the traditional mocha was served and we chatted for a while. Finally, Sonja found someone whom she could ask a zillion questions. Willingly and very objective he gave us the information.

He was pleased that the school system had become much better, but he agreed with us that it is not fair that an officer earns between 50 and 80 pounds a month, whereas an engineer with the same training only comes to 30 to 50 pounds. He was not very pleased that one could take only 5 pounds of travel money when making a trip abroad. In addition, only 4 days a week one could buy meat. Yes, those were the effects of the Communist-inspired and Army-General Nasser who then was the president of Egypt! He played the West against the Soviets!

It is not that the Egyptians are big meat eaters or were (who could afford that anyhow?) But it is only the restriction that one experiences .

On a beautiful sunny morning , we visited the beautiful beaches of Alexandria . From the " Old Port ", which the Romans had already built a Corniche (beach road) moves along the beautiful Mediterranean coast for 22 km to Mandara , along the beaches like Cleopatra, Schatby where there is a nice restaurant built on stilts into the water. Sidi Bishr, Ismailia, Sporting, where there is a horse-racing course, etc., etc. Not to forget of course the famous Stanley beach. It looked like a Vast Arena because the cabins are layed out in 4 and 5 levels piled one above the other along the very pretty bay. Now there are about 2,000 cabins that can be rented annually. At the end of this "coastal road" one arrives at "Montasa". It was King Farouk 's preferred summer palace. But a palace in every sense of the word! The site is large enough to even go in on a hunt! Today it is a park and museum open to the public. To attract more tourists also a casino is established. The other castle of the former obese monarch is located near the new port, but it was used by the Navy as barracks and therefore closed to tourism. The king, at his time, had six palaces at his disposal.

One weekend we wanted to give the Nitsa a little rest and time without us around and thus we stayed in a hotel on the famous Corniche. It was run down, but had a very nice view of the old (Roman) port of Alexandria. Pretty much nothing worked in the hotel. The windows just hung loose in their hinges. The paint was peeling off everywhere. The water in the shower was just dripping, not flowing. I asked the almost black (Sudanese ?) Overseer why is it that everything is crumbling down? He told me very calmly, „Mr. Nasser, our President, tells us that now everything is ours (being communists), it no longer belongs to a nobleman or any of those rich guys. Thus, if I do not feel like it I do nothing! Since it is mine I can let it fall apart!“

We then went one a day on the beach for a walk. Sonja suddenly got terrible toothaches. We asked our way through to a dentist. Good that I still could talk some Arabic! He was still relatively young, about mid-thirties. He had studied in Moscow and was really proud to be a communist. He pulled Sonja’s sick tooth and did a good job. He proudly said that not only the West has good doctors! He prescribed Sonja injections to be gotten once a week for 3 weeks. This was to avoid inflammation of the wound. Since we had to go to the pharmacists and they got the needle into her rear-end. The good thing was that this procedure was very reasonably priced, as Egypt had the Communist system where the state pays for everything! That's why they also went bankrupt later all those Commies!

What we immediately noticed was the lack of Europeans in the streets and in the business world. Since the revolution in 1952, 98 % of Europeans have emigrated. Either, as my family back to the country of origin, or in one of the countries of emigration such as Canada, South Africa, USA or Australia. A very big surprise was when I realized that many Copts had emigrated. You have to know that the Copts are the real descendants of the ancient Egyptians! Most of the Egyptians today are Arabs! The name Egypt shows that already, because the word Egypt comes from ancient Greek and means: Christians! The Copts are counted as only true successors of the ancient Egyptians and they are one of the first to have become Christians.

These facts should have been the motives of the Egyptian " leader" (Nasser) when he founded the Federation of Arab States strongly supported to delete the so reminiscent of the Copts name. The Syrians insisted to call the province of Syria, and Egypt the province of Egypt and thus the name was not entirely extinguished, and remained, probably only in the background. The fact that today there is actually no United Arab Republic, as we know it always takes two to establish an association (Syria cackled its association with Egypt) there is no UAR (United Arab Republics) It should be noted that today's Egyptians Egypt, "Masr" by name, derived from the planet Mars.

The Copts or Christians are shown every day that they are foreigners in that they are not addressed with the usual Arab „Effendi", but they get the title used for Europeans and other foreigners "Chawaga" (foreigner), even though they number some 6 million, being ~25 % of the population. Additionally, the Copts, who are well educated and thus had important key positions in the economy under the British, today they are stripped of all higher positions in management and business by the Muslim majority. (They were once favored by the British as a colonial power because they had a better education and were more reliable.) Often, the Copts are ready for reconciliation with Israel and I think that gives them great enemies. They were sidelined and made so powerless even as they are not allowed to join the military services. So they are displaced from day to day more and more. And sometimes I wonder if their Christian "brothers" in the West will help them when times get dicey?

Probably it will be the same, or at least similar, when Nasser uses gas to annihilate them, same as 25 years earlier the despot Adolf provided the gas to annihilate the Jews, and 20 years later, no one will know anything about it, again!

Nasser got delivered weapons from the Sowjets, almost the same weapons Israel got from the West. Now both sides have rockets, maybe not very good ones, but why do they need to be good? They are so close to each other they could throw stones at each other!

But to whom does it matter? As long as you can make a deal! There are only Arabs and Jews with a few Copts in between! There are only 40 million people! Which, if their hatred continues, will be eating each other!

Instead of tanks and guns , the Egyptians and the Israelis should rather use tractors, machine tools and grow food!

In Egypt, the meat is scarce, it is American meat imports, paper has become scarce, department stores will pack the goods only at the express request by the customer. Even the big hotels have to get their toilet paper on the black market! And like the flowers! Exorbitant prices prevail depending on the season. In the winter they are worth their weight in gold. Nylon stockings are made in Germany and sold for 10 to 15 Mark!

The American people gave away "Friendship" goods such as canned meat and powdered milk, canned fruit, etc. for the poor and hungry in the world. Apparently the Egyptians understand "hungry" as being hungry for money! They were selling those goods on the streets and in broad daylight! For exorbitant prices! Under the watchful eyes of the police, who took their cut and looked the other way!

The beys and pashas are over, colonialism is over. Those who are today the owners of those villas and Cadillacs and Rolls Royces are mostly the members of the armed forces. 

Those are the high-ranking officers and administrators who shout the loudest "Hail Nasser". The chaos is coming, the journalists already make bets among themselves on how many attempts to his life "he" probably survives? Many people think that what is so important? Many see a fear in people and in his vicinity, because what happens when it happens? His presumed successor is expected to be even worse!

A trip to Cairo had of course also to be made. For 5 days we stayed in this great, chaotic city. With a Desert Buss the roaring ride went from Alexandria to Cairo. Actually I wanted to go over the new highway but it was not the route of the bus, so we drove the down the old road. We went everywhere where there was something to see. For one day we were in the Cairo Museum of Antiquities, where we saw historical treasures, in the richest museum in the world. Even the masks and the sarcophagus and the mummy are worth millions. If you look at the mummies’ masks, then you can not believe that this is all real, solid gold. Even gold from a different millennium, yes, already 5000 years old! Obelisks and whole groups of statues are placed in the halls. It can not capture that has been so beautifully worked so many years ago. You pick up on wood and stone, that had not only been touched already 5 and 6000 years ago, but also processed! On another day we went to, how can it be otherwise, the world famous pyramids of Giza.

A small disappointment was when we saw that there is a highway

that practically leads to the foot of the pyramids. Many Tourist drive by in cars. But this takes away off the romantic and Gigantic size of these structures.

Nevertheless we could persuade ourselves to ride up on horsebacks, instead of walking. The old horses were trained to a certain pace. So we rode slowly up the hill on which the pyramids towered into the sky. We discovered that Nasser has made it easy for the tourists to get there very easy and comfortable. Because of the highway there was a two lane road up to and around and between the pyramids. At the Cheops pyramid we rode back down to the Sphinx. We turned around and went to the Khafre and the Micherinos Pyramids. We were really somewhat disappointed because we had imagined it to be quite different. How often do you get to see it on pictures where these monuments stand in the middle of the Sahara and glow in the sun. If you were to close your eyes you could see the camel caravans passing by, etc., etc.

Instead, it looks the same from the Cheops pyramid as from the new Sahara City. Just opposite the Sphinx was a modern low rise building, where from the nightly "son et lumiere" (sound and light presentation) are projected. There are 300 chairs because, as in an open-air cinema, and from there you can see the lighting of monuments in various colors, and listen to a narrative of the history of the pyramids. No doubt, it's nice to see how technological progress is unstoppable. For me personally, I prefer a bit of authenticity of the art, especially if I stand there looking at more than 5 millennia.

We were originally going to stay only three weeks in Egypt. But when we were ready for the return trip the shipowner told us that the next boat had engine trouble and we thus had to wait for the next boat, which comes three weeks later. So we had to stay another 3 weeks with poor Nitsa. In addition, we could not travel to the south of Egypt to look at  the other Egyptian treasures such as Luxor and the Aswan dam. Nitsa was very gracious and put up with us. To lower our expenses we ate a lot of „Kolokitho Pita“, which is a type of spinach pie. It was very healthy and inexpensive. We walked down the  Sharagh Rassafa, the way we did as kids to go to our father’s factory. The Mahmoudia Canal was as dirty as ever. There was barely any water in it. So we looked from this side of the canal to the large factory building where my da worked for some 17 years. Since we had time on our hands we also visited the Shallalat Park, which one could reach on foot in some 20 minutes. That Park was the one where we played a lot as kids and where we climbed the huge trees like monkeys.

Thus, in mid-January 1965, we rode back the train in third class to Port Said. When we reached Port Said again, to catch our ship to Italy, we also learned how gloriously the Egyptian citizens in 1956 fought against the Allied forces of the British and French when they defended the city. Thus, it is in the Egyptian history that the "war" of 1956 against the imperialists of the West has been completed glorious. This war came about because Nasser closed the Suez Canal and declared it an Egyptian object. The French and the British had contractual, and imperialist rights to the canal, because they built it!

Shortly before the customs we sat in coffee and had an espresso. When we wanted to pay the young waiter doubled the usual price. Sonja asked him why the coffee is so expensive? The clever waiter replied "the cream was from France, Madame!" We smiled and paid. He had lied but it was a good excuse!

Through customs in Port Said we came without objection. The papers were checked as usual and the finances control was better than expected.

On Jaunary 28.1965, we went on board of our ship and off we sailed to Naples, Italy.


A new chapter started in my life.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

              Ubi Ubi Bene Casa
                               ( Home is where life is good )
                                          Chapter V
The return to Germany in 1964 and the emigration to America in 1969.


We took the Italian cruise ship in Port Said and steamed to Genoa , Italy and then rolled by train on to Germany.
We briefly stopped at Esslingen am Neckar, where we visited my mother. Then it was on to Hamburg by train where Sonja's parents came to the train station to pick us up. Once there, we learned that Sonja's favorite aunt had unfortunately already passed away. Sonja's parents, Gerta and Hans Kalinowski had never seen me except on pictures. I had, once again, grown a beard on the long journey. At that time my beard was thick and almost black! We wondered how Sonja's father would accept me? He looked skeptical, with a slight smile. Well, he could do little. Sonja and I were happily married for four years in the meantime! Sonja's sister, Rita, had also married and had moved out of the house of her parents. She moved to Westerland on the Island of Sylt where her husband, Günther Jensen, lived. Thus, her room at her parent's place was available and we settled in there for the time being. We lived there in Winterhude (one of Hamburg's many suburbs) in Gertigstrasse 10 on the first floor. We learned that the machinists labor union, wanted to help relieve a serious shortage of technicians and master craftsmen (Meister) in Germany and therefore offered an affordable crash course in mechanical engineering, which lasted only one year at the time. I immediately registered since I always wanted to become an engineer. They accepted me immediately. It was a lot of fun and I was also a very good learner. I discovered that I am a late starter because in my elementary school years I was not a very good pupil. Every year I just barely made it through to the next class. To my parents' chagrin!
Sonja found a job at a large publishing house called “Jahreszeitenverlag” that could be easily reached on foot from Sonja's parents' apartment. So we had an income and I was studying. We paid a small rent to my parents-in-law to ease our conscience. I also often walked to school, which was on the other side of the Alster Lake. In warm weather, it was actually a very nice walk of about an hour. Or I could take the tram there.
On many weekends, we went to Sonja's parents weekend camp site located in Sütel on the Baltic Sea, about 2 hours by car from Hamburg. There, the two Kalinowskis had set up a VW camper and a tent directly on top of a sand dune. One could overlook the beautiful Baltic Sea from their camping place. Their neighbors were Sonja's uncle Heinz and his wife Betti. There we had many memorable days, drunken days, and so many rainy days. Sometimes the traffic was disastrous on a weekend. So we were always trying to find other secret routes to the Baltic Sea. We had no car. Imagine that! Father-in-law had one, an old, beautiful Mercedes, and we needed none. We either walked or we took the public transportation such as the S- or U-Bahn. The public transportation system of Hamburg was really great.
My father-in-law wanted to build a half-solid tent with solid walls and a tent-like roof for his beloved Sütel on the Baltic Sea. This should replace its outdated VW bus, which they had used for many years. So I drew up the plans, he bought the material and got the roof of the tent sewn out of plastic coated fabric. In the many hours we have spent to build the tent, it came out that my father-in-law really could swear! He never did that in front of the women. But if he occasionally hit his fingers with the hammer, a few of his seafaring pronunciations came out. He was , after all a Sailor! He was also an officer on the U-boats of World War II. But he never wanted to talk about it. He must have experienced horrific tragedies?
In the spring of 1966, we set up the tent in Sütel. It was very nice. It was admired by all the neighbors. But it was not long until the mayor came and explained to Hans that the tent is to be regarded as permanent building and therefore it should not be on the dune (darn rules!). With a heavy heart we had to dismantle it and a camper, in the hinterland of the camping place, bought it because it was allowed to build it back there. Hans then bought a beautiful caravan trailer in which we spent so many lovely weekends and holidays for so many years.

My studies of mechanical engineering went very well and I graduated in the fall of 1966. One of my teachers told me that he acts as a consultant to a machine builder called Pagendarm in Eidelstedt, a North-Western suburb of Hamburg, not too far from Krupundersee where we later bought our condo. He recommended me to apply for a job at that company. He told me that as good as nobody in that company spoke any foreign language and I with my knowledge of 4 languages would be the one-eyed in the land of the blind! So I made an appointment and had a meeting with the owner, Mr. Erich Gendarme, a graduated engineer by training. He was impressed that I could talk so many languages. He called in his personal secretary, Fr. Kind who could speak and write, even in shorthand, French and English, besides German of course. The interview went very well and we started to negotiate the salary. Since I really was very interested to return to Sydney, I was very demanding and pokered high. My research indicated that I could ask some DM 1,200/month (Deutsche Mark, the Germany currency at the time). So I asked for that amount! Mr. Pagendarm did not budge. But he offered the following: DM 900 for the first 6 months. When every thing went well then, the salary would rise to DM 1,000. 6 months later, when things are still going well I would get the DM 1,200, which I had asked for. I was flabbergasted, because I never expected such a great deal! So I accepted on the spot. He liked that because also he was a quick decision-maker. That evening I met with Sonja and told her that I got the job. We all were ecstatic.

It was then that we decided to stay in Germany, and start a family. We asked our friends in Australia, Fritz Wehrmann (he had emigrated to Australia with me in 1960) and his wife Anne to sell our land parcel in Sydney. The sale of the lot happened relatively quickly because the economy in Australia was going very well. With the money from the lot we paid the down payment for a new two-bedroom condo in Hamburg-Halstenbek, located at 4 Kastanien Allee, near the Krupundersee. Sonja stopped taking the birth control pills, and low and behold, within a short time she was pregnant. Our son Mark Andreas Heuchert came into this world on December/13/1968 in Hamburg. It was with great joy that we had started a family. I was heavily intoxicated that evening and so was my father-in-law. Sonja and I had selected the name Mark because it is short, simple and can not be mispronounced in other languages. By then we had moved into our little condo of some 71 sq. m. (~780 sq. ft.) It had a large living room where we set up a couch with 2 matching seats and a dining table with 4 chairs. It also had a small kids room, a bath with shower in which we managed to install also a washing machine (against the house rules). The master bedroom was just large enough for a queen-size double bed and a clothes cabinet. The kitchen was minute but sufficient for our needs at that time. It was located on the first floor and the building was surrounded wit lots of green areas. A city bus station was nearby. One could walk in about 15 minutes to a shopping area with a grocery store. We liked the place very much. The mortgage was affordable. A new chapter had started in my life. I had improved my education, had found a good paying job, had produced a son with the help of Sonja, and had bought a condo. Things were going great.

Ubi Bene Ubi Casa

                                          
(Home is where life is good)

Chapter VI

My work-life at Pagendarm of Hamburg, Germany and FMC of Green Bay, Wisconsin


On April 1st 1966 I started to work for Pagendarm in Eidelstedt, a suburb of Hamburg. It was not an April Fool's joke! I started in the project department lead by an engineer called Wilfried Kortüm. We prepared bids for the custom machinery that Pagendarm designed and built. My first job was to engineer a new drive shaft of a coating and laminating machine. I stood on the drawing board and drew and designed. (No computer then!) I botched the thing because the drive was turning the wrong way. But everything did fit! It must have been a miracle? We only had to use a different gearbox that was reversible and this fixed my error. Mr. Kortüm helped me along here. We became pretty good friends later. It did not take long that I was called away from the drawing board because there was a customer in France that had machine problems and an interpreter was urgently needed. I just had time to learn all these strange technical terms that are specific to this industry, first in German then in English, French, and Italian.

One day after 6 months I was driven from Hamburg to France by Hubes Klamber, the French representative of Pagendarm. One of his customers had problems with his Pagendarm Coating and Laminating machine. Hubes had a fancy, fast Citroen with air suspension. That ride was a great experience because that automobile could go some 180 Kph ( ~ 120 Mph). I had it fairly easy. I just had to watch what the customer, the technician and the salesman said and interpret it as accurately as possible. It benefited me that I 'm not shy. If I was not sure of some word I simply invented appropriate words and phrases. Sometimes it was very funny, because I had invented the opposite of what they were saying. But I was so young (28) then. Most of the older customers had a father-complex and were willing to help me and to forgive my mistakes.
The funniest happenings I had in Italy. Pagendarm had there a representative called Dr. Gambini, a graduated engineer. He was already 55 years old and only some 5'2” tall and a bit chubby. At that time I thought he was an ancient man because I was only 28. Today, at 75 (it's 2013) I think quite differently! Dottore Gambini always picked me up from the Milano airport with his FIAT 600. Most of the time the first thing we did is go to eat. Yes , food was his passion. Well, he was from the Northern Italian State of Piemonte, which is known for excellent food. We always ate very fine and very long. He visited no more than two customers per day. (Man does not live to work but work to live!) The first customer visit we did was never before 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning. Then we talked a bit with the interested parties and by 13 o'clock we went to the restaurant. The next visit was then only around 16:00 or 17:00 o'clock. Then again it was a polite conversation with the customer, and before we knew it, it was already 20:00 o'clock. Time for supper. Things were going very good. The various representatives had only good things to say about me. Thus, Mr. Erich Pagendarm honored his promises and I got my raises as agreed.
After about a year I made several trips to the USA and Canada. The representative in New York was a playboy named Axel Sichel. He had inherited his company from his father. Business was very good. They were German-born Jews and represented many German companies. They had fled Germany before Hitler and his cohort took over Germany. One of them was Pagendarm. The young man Axel did not do much work. He wanted to do everything just by phone. What? Visit Customer? He did not like that. To battle through the crazy New York traffic is insane, he said indignantly. No, this is crazy, he exclaimed! We call these guys and see if they are interested? Nevertheless, we visited a few companies but nothing came of it because he never followed up. On the other hand, the visits to New York City were not as stressful as the jet lag. He always booked me into a fine Hotel, the Eaton Plaza, which was right on Central Park, in midtown Manhattan. He had a very nice and spacious apartment on the same street, just a block away on the 32nd floor. He also liked food, and I 'm not on a diet, right? So we worked a little and enjoyed fine dining. But otherwise there was no business for Mr. Pagendarm.
I convinced the Mr. Pagendarm that I need to conquer this giant American market for him. I wanted to go to America and help this lazy Axel open the market for us. Mr. Pagendarm agreed with me and his Managing Director, Mr. Rolf Knigge agreed too. So I applied for a green card and withe help of Mr. Sichel got it pretty fast. Yes, at that time it was relatively easy. One had only to declare that one was a skilled worker, which I was (Tool maker). It went quickly because a huge demand for skilled labor existed then in the US. I did not mention that I 'm also a technicians because it would have a handicapped me. My negative reports on these lame representative reached also the managing director of Pagendarm, Mr. Rolf Knigge and he was not pleased. So we decided to search for another agent.

FMC Corporation , Green Bay, Wisconsin

On an Engineering Fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, probably the Drupa of 1967, I had a lot of fun. I was sent to the fair because of my language skills. I was fully engaged because I could talk to the French, the British, Americans, Australians , Italians and even a few Arabs. Mr. Erich Pagendarm was blown away. I was not lazy. I worked many long hours and days without ever saying that I was tired. The Pagendarm people were impressed.
One day we spoke to an American who came to our booth. It was a Mr. Dan White, Sales Manager of FMC Corporation in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA. He came to find a good laminating machinery builder who would be willing to enter into a license agreement. FMC built printing presses that were similar to our laminating machines. Thus, the existing representatives, Sichel, was terminated and a contract with FMC was entered into. I was integrated into the contract to help FMC get started with the sales and manufacturing of Pagendarm Coaters and laminators. I was supposed to stay for 2 years under that contract. FMC was to pay my salary and Pagendarm was to keep on paying my Social Security in Germany. FMC also paid for my moving my family to Green Bay, Wisconsin.
I flew in August of 1969 via Chicago to Green Bay to familiarize myself with the area. Sonja and Mark, who was only 10 months old, came over to Green Bay a few months later. We stayed in a Hotel in Green Bay until our stuff arrived in a 20-foot container. Then we rented one half of a small duplex located at 25 Longview Road, Allouez. A nice, quite residential area of Green Bay, which was highly recommended to us by Dan White who also lived in that neighborhood. The duplex had 2 bedrooms, a single-car garage and a small garden. I traveled a lot around to promote the sales of Pagendarm coating and laminating machines. I had a small office and an older secretary (Dorothy was already over 55 ?) who wrote in a secretarial pool for me. My title was "Product Sales Manager", Coating and Laminating Machines. My first salary was $19,000 per annum. That was good money back then, because one could buy a new car like the Chevy Impala with a V8 engine for about $3,000 and a small house for about $ 20,000! At that time I had calculated that it would take in the US one annual salary to buy a house, whereas in Germany it would take 14 annual salaries!

FMC Corporation

FMC stands for “Food, Machinery, Chemicals”. They were and still are a huge company with approximately $3 billion in annual sales. But our subdivision in Green Bay, called "Packaging Machinery Division", with about 400 people was tiny ... with 0.5 % of total sales. We had about 14 sales engineers who were spread all over the whole, vast continent. This included Mexico and Canada. Most of these sales people were working from home. They sold the various machines, which the engineers in Green Bay designed and manufactured. These were flexographic printing presses for paper and plastic film, packaging machines also called wrappers for all kinds of products like cookies, crackers, and the like. They also manufactured and sold “Hudson Sharp” napkin folders, toilet roll wrappers, and the like. Another line was “bag machines”. These sales guys were our scouts who contacted existing and potential customers to convince them to buy our machines. We were 5 product sales manager who had the expertise in their particular field and brought the technical know how to help close a sale. I traveled a lot around to convince the customers that we had the right machine for their purpose. Our main competition was PCMC (Paper Converting Machinery Company), headquartered in Green Bay. They had the license from a Swiss company, Polytype, which also built coating and laminating machines like Pagendarm. They also had hired a young Swabian (Southwest Germany) sales engineer called Juergen Schäuble, who helped them to sell their machines in North America .
We had rented out our condo in Hamburg and gave the management of the apartment to a broker of Altona, Hamburg. 15 % of the rent went for the management of our apartment. We had many problems with the apartment. The rent never covered the costs. So we had to repeatedly send money from America to Hamburg. We wanted to raise the rent to cover the costs. We were not allowed to. The German tenant protection was on the side of the tenant and the landlord did had little rights. Yes , those were the capitalists with the money, and they could afford an apartment, right? Eventually came a call from the tenants that the window in the children's room was not sound proof enough. (?) The window was replaced and we had to cough up the money. There were few tenants that paid the rent very punctual. One could not do anything, just sit and watch! At the end a tenant did not pay the rent for 3 months. He did not reply to the invitation to pay. Once we were in Hamburg and went with our Realtor to the apartment. She had called the police before because one must not purely enter in your own home as owner if it is rented! The police broke open the door to the apartment. (We later had to pay the repair !) A terrible stench came toward us . No one was there. Everything was Topsy-turvy. We went into the kitchen because the worst smell came from there. We went to the fridge and almost threw up. Everything in there was was rotting. The tenant had apparently not been around for months. Because he did not pay the electricity, it was turned off. We hired a company that cleaned up the terrible mess. We could not do this because we would have thrown up. Then, after many months, we have sold the condo for less than we paid for it. That was probably 1974. But we were glad to have that head ache behind us.


When my contract with FMC ended two years later in 1971, I (we) did not want to move away. I had worked day and night and had just finally sold a nice big machine. It was a laminating machine type Lamicoater of 1.200 mm 948”) working width and 300 m/min (1000 fpm) speed. The customer, Superior Packaging of Toronto, Canada was thrilled how well it ran. Until then most laminators managed only 200 m/min (600 fpm) laminating speed. One of the three owners of Superior Packaging was a German immigrant of some 50 years in age. He was awesome. He could fix a lot of things himself, which had helped us a lot. The other partner was James O'Brien, a very nice Irish immigrant who was in charge of sales. The third partner was a Canadian who was the bean counter. They had started the company with each chipping in approximately Can. $50,000 each as capital. They became very successful. 12 years later, they sold the thriving company for Can. $ 40 million! A good merit? I would say yes! The German realized his dream of a round house. Some years later I met him in retirement. Then he told me to never build a round house! Why? Because one can not find any furniture for round houses and one wastes a third of the floor area with rectangular furniture in a round house! Again, what is the lesson? Be careful when you want to realize your dreams. Some can end up being nightmares!

In 1971, I extended our stay in the USA, at FMC, without a contract, but for a few dollars more in salary. Anyway, in America one does rarely work with contracts, so that everyone could move freely. Soon rolled in the big jobs. I was making very good money. Mr. Rolf Knigge made sure that I frequently got a bonus from Pagendarm to keep me in "line". Of course I had a lot of traveling to do. Pagendarm was so nice back then and has continued to pay my Social Security in Germany until 1976. Also, I got my pension precalculated by an insurance professional, who was a friend of my friend Wilfried Kortüm. The insurance guy recommended that I pay a certain sum voluntarily into the pension fund. This would increase my pension later (which it did!). Since the dollar was pretty strong at that time, around 3.3 DM/Dollar, I paid in about DM 12,000. This had a strong effect on my pension, which increased by a fair amount. Yes, it is worth your while to think of your old age, even when you are still young!
Approximately in 1974, I had sold three huge Pagendarm coating machines. One for the production of silicone paper and two for the production of self-adhesive tapes, such as Scotch tape. All these machines were the largest and fastest Pagendarm had ever built. Unfortunately, these machines were not going well. The customers were getting frustrated. Instead of selling additional machines, I had to spend precious days, nights, weeks and months, with the technicians and engineers at the customers places to repair and install improvements to the malfunctioning machines. A machine was installed in the vicinity of Green Bay at Edgewater, a company in Menasha. With 2.6 m in width it was the widest silicone coating machine that had ever been built. It seemed that Mr. Pagendarm, who was an engineer himself, was trying to do too much. The machine would and would not run properly. The other plants were in Aurora, Ohio at Chemtrol . A brand new company that wanted to produce self-adhesive tapes using the most modern technology. Everything should go fully automatic. Again, Mr. Erich Pagendarm took over. There were three machines: the widest hot melt coating machine of 1.8 m width available at that time with a slotted nozzle head, a very new, not yet mature technology. Then an 80 m long and 1.8 m wide machine equipped with 3 in-line coating heads to produce pressure sensitive tapes like Duck tape. The machine was to run fully automatic. The huge installation, worth some $6 million, worked, but not as fast as it had been promised in the contract. A very clever, older and shy engineer named Hugo Klein came frequently over to the US on behalf of Pagendarm. He made many alterations every time he visited. Each brought an improvement but still not good enough for the customer. FMC ultimately gave up because Pagendarm could not satisfy the demands of the customers. Thus, the customers started to sue FMC in order to force a resolution. FMC denounced in 1975 the agency contract and sued Pagendarm for breach of contract. Thus my position as "Product Sales Manager" became very precarious. But FMC needed me, since I had the expertise and specialized knowledge about all those projects. FMC lost the suit a few years later supposedly because the German court in Hamburg was too "patriotic" said Dan White who in the meantime was the general manager of the Packaging Machinery Division of FMC in Green Bay. How could FMC, then a three-billion-Dollar company win a fight against little Pagendarm being a small factory with about 50 million marks (about U.S. $15 million that time) in sales? It was David against Goliath and the latter lost!
Almost always, when we sold a Pagendarm coating machine a certain percentage was sent to Mr. Pagendarm's secret number-account in Switzerland. Since it was a big risk for Rolf Knigge, who did those transfers, he always secretly branched off a little sum for himself and deposited it in his own secret Swiss account. So they hid that money from the tax office. One day Mr. Pagendarm found out that Mr. Knigge branched off some of the black money for himself. He became very irritated and mad. Both wanted to sue each other. But because they both had dirty fingers they agreed, though not very friendly, not sue each other. Mr. Pagendarm was lucky because in those years the Tax Office had offered an amnesty for black money holders, which he had accepted in order not to end up in jail. He paid a multi-million DM penalty and so he was done and did not go to jail for tax evasion. The early 1970s very difficult economic times, with the OPEC crisis of 1973 and everything surrounding it. Mr. Pagendarm spoke then of "shrink yourselves healthy". So he shrank his company down to some 150 people and survived the crisis. Mr. Pagendarm was actually quite a nice guy. In the good years he would throw a Christmas party for all employees. Everything was paid for. He acted as the waiter to the employees! He also got some coins stamped and gave them to “worthy employees”. I received about 5 of them. 3 in Gold and two in silver to reflect how well the company did during that particular year. When I started there he was giving an extra bonus in form of a baby-stroller for those who had a new-born child.
But the poor fellow had also personal problems. He liked BMW's because he liked to drive very fast. He often got speeding tickets. He was also at a very young age, a fighter pilot in the Third Reich. Because he once flew under a bridge in Cologne in 1944, he was severely punished, he told us. He also had an affair with Miss Kind, his horny secretary. She was not very pretty but well built. She also had relationships with many others in the company, even with our friend Hubes Klamber from Alsace, who was the Pagendarm representative for southern Germany and Alsace-Lorraine.
We have invited Hubes a few times to us to our condo in Rellingen-Krupunder. Mostly, he brought with him good French wine and tasty snails. He was driving a Citroen, which Sonja and I found great. The car had a very aerodynamic shape and air suspension. It could go up to 120 MPH. That was the speed of sound for us! We then had a 1970 used Renault Dauphin 4, which barely managed 80 MPH. Sonja and I visited Hubes 3 times in Alsace at his home. He lived in the vicinity of Mulhouse, France. Being an Alsatian he spoke French and German. One time he took Sonja in a glider. She was thrilled. Since there was insufficient wind he took me to the drag-plane that pulled the glider up into the air. They had no winches, as it was usually done to pull up the glider. They had an old, abandoned military airfield as a base. The runway was full of bomb craters from the second world war. Thus, the need for the ancient biplanes of the First World War. But I had to keep my hands on the wings of the old clunker and either push or pull back so the bird would miss the bomb craters. And I had to run at a gallop. Arrived at the other end of the runway I was bathed in sweat, and the plane was at full throttle. The oil dripping from the 6-cylinder in-line engine, which stood on its head. Hubes said "this is good and must be so! Then we know that there is oil in it"! We flew a few laps and enjoyed it, despite the infernal noise made by the old engine. We were very lucky! 4 months later Hubes told us the that the old biplane crashed and the pilot was killed. Yes, one has to be at the right time at the right place!
Later, the lovely Mrs. Pagendarm divorced Erich, because of his affairs. He sometimes quarreled with the customer. Because he was the engineer and what he says is correct. He has thus lost some orders. Fortunately, he let me and my clients mostly in peace. Why? Because he knew no other language other than German. So I had a good time. One of my best customers was Jaime Zaragoza of Grafo Regia of Monterrey, Mexico. He bought large machines for his company who belonged to one of the largest breweries in Mexico. They were vertically integrated, that is they owned steel mills in order to make the steel they needed for the crown beer bottle caps. They owned glass works in order to make the glass beer bottles. They owned paper mills, in order tho make the labels for the beer bottles. Thus, they also owned the printing presses in order to print the labels. These labels had to be waterproof, thus they were coated on Pagendarm coating machines, which I sold to him. We were often together in Hamburg and had a very good time because he had a good sense of humor. Once we flew to Copenhagen and he paid the flight. I was sitting at his side. We sat in the front of the plane, business class, of course, as someone knocks on my shoulder. It was Herman Jansen from Green Bay, my friend of the fur trade. He was on his way to Copenhagen for an auction of furs. How small is the world? I was also very often in Monterrey at Jaime's plant. There he had the most advanced printing equipment available. He had hired highly skilled professionals to run these expensive machines, most of them Europeans. He also bought a large coating machine to apply the glue for the beer bottle labels. We had an extra 30 % bonus in the price because his boss, one of the owners, wanted the money in Switzerland. So the owner tricked his own company and the tax office.


The tornado in Green Bay in 1970


We were barely there, and a tornado hit Green Bay. It's a great rarity, for a tornado to appear so far to the north. It was only in 2007, that another tornado moved through Green Bay, 37 years later.
Once we visited Superior Packaging in Toronto, Canada during the summer. I took Sonja and Mark along. I borrowed a company car from FMC with a trailer hitch and we rented a pop-up camper. It was a very long drive. I had combined the business visit with my vacation, that was only 2 weeks / year. We drove from Green Bay north and drove around Lake Superior. This is the largest and deepest of the "Great Lakes" of North America. The scenery was beautiful. Small towns, and the roads were good. We crossed the border into Canada at Duluth, MN (MN = Minnesota) where we stayed at many parks that were well maintained. At a smaller lake we met a German immigrant who was fishing out of his little boat. He took time with us and we caught a few trout which he grilled right on the same evening. Oh, that tasted good. There is just nothing better than freshly caught fish, right? He told us that he is unemployed and living on unemployment benefits. He needed only to drive to Toronto once a month to pick up his unemployment benefits. The rest of the time he spent in this beautiful wilderness. We drove all the way to Toronto, visited Superior Packaging. We drove back via Michigan and Chicago. This was a shorter route and made the whole trip a round trip.
A few years later I met the Irish partner of Superior Packaging, Scott O'Brien. He told me that he had invested half of his savings, about $6 million in a production facility of sausages. When he started to sell the sausages the was stopped by the authorities because his sausages started to get moldy on the shelf ! So he lost the whole investment and went into retirement at an early stage to enjoy the rest of his assets. The conclusion is "Stick with what you know" !
I sold another Pagendarm coating machine to a company in Montreal. The owner was a Canadian of Jewish faith. His manager was a Palestinian that spoke very good French and English. He also knew how to wheal and deal (like all Arabs). It was still fun because we talked off and on in Arabic. That machine was assembled by Johnny Wick, an experienced Pagendarm technician. Johnny was a nice guy and we befriended a little. The head of the company also liked Johnny ans thus hired him to serve as a production manager. This was ideal, as Johnny could also fix the machine when the need was there. Also this company we have, that is Sonja, Mark and I, visited another time. We took the camper and went there again. But this time we took the ferry from Manitowoc, WI, a small port town on Lake Michigan , near Green Bay. This shortened the journey considerably. After we had visited this company in Montreal, we drove to Quebec City. A very nice European-style city which made ​​a strong, positive impression on us. We hired a babysitter and went to the old town for an evening meal. In a nice little restaurant we ate the first and still the best Caesar salad ever. The waiter prepared it at our table using anchovies. Today, many decades later, we still dream of that salad!

Sonja and Mark

Sonja took care of our little son Mark, whom we called “Spurtzel”. He was only 10 months old when he came to USA with us. We had to get used to the cold winters in Wisconsin. It was common in January and February that we had temperatures of minus 20 and 30 degrees Celsius (same in Fahrenheit). We quickly learned that the cold is not a big problem, but the problem is wearing the wrong clothes. One must be well dressed and warm when one wants to avoid getting frost bites. The nice thing about the cold weather is that usually the sun is shining. It's too cold for a cloud formation. We shoveled snow like crazy. We heated like crazy, but our natural gas heating was not too expensive. Despite the cold, we were often out in the fresh (cold) air. Sonja made ​​many friends, many of which we still have today, even though we have moved away from Green Bay in 1994.

My first car in the United States : The Ambassador of American Motors.

We needed a car and found a used 1965 American Motors Ambassador. This company later went bankrupt. The 4 -door car was large, like most American cars at the time. It was white with red leather seats and some chrome strips. It looked great! I took the rear seat out and replaced it with a plywood board. Then I glued a 2” thick foam mattress on it, which was covered with a plush fabric material. Our small Mark could romp around and then sleep when he wanted. Luckily, he was also a very good traveler. Very rarely he whined. He played with his toys, such as stuffed animals, etc. , back there on the " back seat " and when he was tired, he simply laid down and slept​​.
Around 1971 we had saved enough money that we decided to buy our own house, instead of renting the Duplex we were in. During our walks in Allouez, where we lived, a nice little house caught our eye, that was only a block away from our rented duplex. We scraped together all our dough and made a deposit of 20 % of the purchase value of approximately $19,800. This house had the address: 3809 South Clay. It had a single garage and a finished basement equipped with a bar. We had many parties down there. The bungalow-style house was not very large by American standards. I guess that it was approximately 1,200 ft ² (110 m²) . It had 2 bedrooms, a toilet, a living room, a small dining area and a kitchen. It had a 2,500 ft ² ( 230 m² ), large front yard towards the road and a backyard of about 5,000 square feet (450 m²) . The backyard bordered to the gardens of our neighbors. As usual in America, there were no fences, unless one had a swimming pool outside or held dogs. As a result, it looked as if we had a huge lot back there. Various trees gave shade in the summer. The purchase price was approximately $19,800 , about my gross annual earnings! In Germany such a house would have cost 4 times more!
It was not long and we bought a folding camp trailer (pop-up-camper) for about $ 1,200 and began to roam around in summer. This trailer had a separate upper half that one could crank up or down. Thus one had less air resistance, and thus enjoyed lower fuel consumption.
The summers in Wisconsin are very nice because they are mild. Wisconsin is so far north on the North American continent that rarely summer temperatures rise above 30 degrees C (86 F). But one finds tons of mosquitoes. One of the areas that is very attractive is " Door County ". A well-known resort area which is only about an hour north of Green Bay.

The "A - Frame"

Our friends in Green Bay, Wisconsin
In the meantime, Sonja has made many acquaintances. She attended the University of Green Bay and met many people there. For example, Kathy Heitl also a neighbor, and her husband Joe of German descent. With him I went deer hunting later. The Heitls had a hunting cabin in northern Wisconsin, an "A - frame ", in the middle of a vast forest and on a lake. There we were hunting a few times. When Mark was old enough, with about 12, he came with us deer hunting. This is a very popular sport in Wisconsin and other U.S. states. It had to be done because otherwise too many deer would cause chaos. Then they too often starved in the cold, long winters or they caused too many costly car accidents. It has been estimated that approximately 800,000 deer lived in Wisconsin. In contrast, approximately 400,000 people were hunters during the hunting season, each equipped with a shotgun or rifle. These were more men under arms than in at D-Day in Normandy in World War II! The hunt was strictly regulated. One was only allowed to shoot bucks with at least 4 inches long horns. Sometimes a group of 4 hunters could get a special permit to shoot one more doe.

When hunting I learned how to slaughter such an animal. I took the meat to Green Bay and there was a butcher that made ​​sausages out of it and he stored it in a freezer for a small fee. Depending on our needs we then picked up a few pounds from him to eat at home. Anyone could go hunting in Wisconsin. Anybody could easily buy a gun. I bought a used gun called "Craig" , which is a sportified army rifle. It had a telescopic sight mounted on it. It was an old, Belgian carbine from World War II, of 0.44 caliber. I found it at an arms dealer in Green Bay. Because I was an immigrant, and not a US citizen, I had to wait for about 2 weeks before getting the gun. They did a background check on me to see if I am not a criminal.

The Jansen's (Herman & Josée)
One day Sonja met Josée around 1971 in a furniture store in Green Bay. They noticed the European accent of each other and talked to each other. Josée and her husband, Herman Jansen, were Dutch. They were about 10 years younger than us. They had arrived only recently in Green Bay. They were invited to our house. Then they invited us and so began a great friendship that still lives on today (2015). Herman was a fur broker working the neighboring states of Wisconsin and Minnesota, visiting trappers and mink farms. He bought their furs and auctioned them of on the international fur market. His whole family was in the fur business, but most, if not all, in breeding animals such as mink. Since Herman and Josée had no children yet, they traveled frequently with us in our folding camping trailer. The camper could indeed accommodate 6 people and had a small kitchen and a heater. (In 1971 in Wisconsin one needs no air conditioning!)
Once we went with them to the beautiful Door County state park, located on the Green Bay (hence the name for the city: Green Bay "). Located on Lake Michigan It was only about an hour drive from Green Bay. It was Easter and we hid some Easter eggs in the bushes, so that Mark could search for them. Mark found them and they were eaten happily. Our Mark was then probably 5 or 6 and he went off to play with other children. It was beautiful spring weather and we basked in the sun enjoying a few beers. Suddenly Mark came to us, crying. He was soaking wet. He said that he went on an old jetty and one of the planks broke and he fell into the water. Fortunately, he was able to swim and saved himself. All the other children were full of horror and just ran away. It was the merit of the Sonja that Mark could swim. Already as a baby she took him swimming to the indoor pool of Allouez, where we lived.

At the University of Green Bay, where Sonja studied accounting, she also met Marianne Maki. Who's husband is Kenny Maki whose ancestors were Finns. They also lived in Allouez, not too far away from us. Marianne has Italian ancestry and thus has black eyes and hair. This is in stark contrast with her Finnish husband who had blue eyes and blond hair. Eventually, we were invited for dinner by the Makis. There we met their neighbors, namely Bill & Kay Nelson. They heard that we had a folding camper and loved to travel around with it. So they invited us to visit them with our camper at their wooded lot in Baileys Harbor, Door County, just an hour North from Green Bay. We did this gladly and had a lot of fun doing so. They offered us to permanently leave the camper in their woods during the summer. That was done. Josée and Herman joined us again and again. We were all pretty much the same age and sometimes also wanted to have a good time with some friends and some cool beers and cocktails. We all liked to visit the Frontier bar, which was located downtown Baileys Harbor. We could walk from our campsite to the bar in about 20 minutes. Thus, we did not have any problems with drunken driving.
1973 was our big year in Baileys Harbor. My sister Mary and Herrmann, my other sister's (Traudl), husband visited us. We rented a log house in Baileys Harbor, which belonged to a Rolley Peil, a local construction guy. Rolley ( Roland ? ) had German ancestors and could even speak a few words of German. We all lived in his log house including the kids. Our friends, the Makis, together with their kids Marya and Eric also stayed with us. We went to the beach, we had a barbecue and enjoyed our wine from 4- liter (one gallon ) bottles. It was very nice. One evening we guys arrived very late from the Frontier bar where we had danced all night like crazy. It was probably already 2 o'clock in the morning. We were hungry. So I started to make my specialty: French omelets. Each consists of a single egg! We toasted bread as an accompaniment. We found a bottle of wine and we enjoyed it. We found out the next day, after we had rested a bit, that we 4 guys had eaten some 36 eggs! My clever Sonja had fortunately hidden a dozen eggs, and so we had some more for breakfast.
In the Frontier bar we met Charles Oberdorf. He also had German ancestors. He told us that he had inherited from his mother a 40 acres woodlot on the " Bluff " in Baileys Harbor. He wanted to develop it and thus he divided it into smaller, 2- acre lots so that he could sell them. This because his siblings wanted to get their money out of the inheritance. After two years he had not sold a single lot. He had only the expenses with the property tax, which he had to pay every year. We negotiated with the nice old man and reached a price of $500/acre, i.e. a total of $20,000. We guys teamed up, namely Bill Nelson, Herman Jansen, Bud Nelson ( brother of Bill ), Kenny Muller, Bob Link and I and took some loans from the bank to buy this incredibly inexpensive property. The existing laws did not allow us to divide all parcels at the same time. Thus, Bill and I de facto took over, at least on paper, the whole 40 acres. Later we divided the acreage in two, and some 18 months later we could divide it again. After 5 years, we had split it all honestly. Bud, Kenny, Bob and Dick (Hawker), a school friend of Kenny had set up mobile homes on their newly acquired land. This was the cheapest and fastest way to build a place to stay for the weekend. Herman and I had different ideas. We each built a cabin. My dream came true. I finally had my A-Frame! We found a good carpenter in Jim Haverkorn who was related to our friends, Diana and Bob Link. So we built ourselves some nice little weekend cottages for relatively little money. They were probably about 800 ft ² including a living and dining area, 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom with shower, plus a large wooden deck.

We were again lucky. It was my childhood dream to own an A-Frame house. I had seen many pictures of such cabins in the comics that I read as a boy in Germany in order not to let my English skills go down the drain. For a long time I was looking at an "A - frame " house, which stood as a model-house for a large timber merchants in the east of Green Bay. I bargained intensively and got it for $1,500, including the transport costs to Baileys Harbor, which was about 65 miles to the North of Green Bay. The beauty of the thing was that it was built in a clever, modular system. We hired Rolley Peil to clear our building lot on the “Bluff”. He had a huge Caterpillar, which made this work easy. Then we hired a bricklayer from Baileys Harbor whom we had met in the Frontier bar. He built the foundation with about 24 columns of cement blocks 4 ft high and three feet square.
Once the material had been delivered for the A – Frame House we hired a local carpenter from Baileys Harbor, Gene Bauldry, who was the son-in-law of Rolley Peil. My friends then rushed in to help. Pretty much all the "bluffers" came. We got that nickname because we lived up there on the "Bluff ". It took probably only 2 weekends to build the cabin. The third weekend we needed to nail down the roof shingles. I brought them from Green Bay because they were cheaper there. But I miscalculated the quantity because we had to put the tiles too close together. So I had to go back to Green Bay twice to fetch more shingles. At that time I had a small car, a 1970 Chevy Vega that barely managed to transport such a heavy load. It was a funny picture: there were 4 or 5 guys on the steep, sloping roof all hammering shingle nails like crazy. It echoed through the forest like a swarm of giant Woodpeckers.
We had sold our pop-up camper and invested the money in the A - Frame. Then came a few simple pieces of furniture. We also had a fireplace, and indeed the one called a " Franklin Stove ". It was made ​​of cast iron, almost air-tight, and had large doors. It could burn large pieces of wood. The chimney was made of double-wall stainless steel and insulated. I also had installed a heat exchanger with a blower, to provide cozy heat. The A-Frame House had probably around the 900 ft ² living space. It had a small, second floor, where the bedrooms were. Thus we gained another 160 ft ² sleeping area. However, one lost about 30 % of the area .. because the steep walls took away useful space on the sides and we often knocked our heads against the wall. But, for a hard wooden head and skull like mine it was no big deal!A spiral staircase made ​​of wooden boards, took us to the upper bed rooms where we on the one side had a double bed for Sonja and myself and on the other side we had a single bed for our Mark. Up there we had two windows, one on each end of the "sleeping attic ". At the rear of the house we had the kitchen and next to it the bathroom with sink and shower. For the toilet I had built outside a small A- Frame outhouse. For the first few years we washed with water that we brought along. The A- Frame had a large 250 sq. ft. Deck, where we often partied with more than 20 people. Around the deck was a railing that also served as a bench. From the veranda we could walk through a glass sliding door into the interior. At the back of the house was also a regular door, which led out to the “house with heart”and a small garden shed.
It was not long before we Bluffers decided we needed tap water. So, Bill and I designed our own water supply system. Rolly rented a drill and drilled a well behind Bill's mobile home. The hole was about 275 ft deep. There we he had the amount of water that we wanted, about 25 gallons per minute. Bill had rented a scaffolding with tackle to help us lift and insert the 14 feet long by 2” diameter galvanized pipes. We screwed each pipe, piece by piece into the next pipe, and slowly, they went down the deep hole. (See my video) Then came a certified electrician and completed the 220 ​​volt power supply and we started the submersible pump. Low and behold, we had our own water. We then interconnected all the bluffers with 2” black plastic pipes and everyone connected his dwelling to our own line of drinking water line! Our A-Frame had no water-flush toilet. So I installed a "Swedish " toilet in our bathroom. It was water-less and works on the composting principle. We needed only a weak (12 Volt) power supply for an exhaust fan and for heating the material in there, always keeping it at an ideal temperature for an optimal composting. It worked pretty darn good. It did not smell, and at the end of the year I had some compost for the garden. One spring we came to our cottage after not having been there for a few month. We found a dead, partially decomposed squirl in there. It had managed to sneak in through the exhaust pipe!
As soon as the A-Frame was completed we invited all the Bluffers and celebrated with a whole-pig roast on a rotisserie. Our local friend Dale Williams organized a machine for roasting a whole pig. We stuffed the beast full of apples and sauerkraut and put the grill back behind the A-Frame. We started with a few beers. Unfortunately, it began to rain. So we pushed the pig, together with the huge grill into my small tool shed. It just barely fit in there. Through the rain, the coal had cooled and it lasted and lasted until the piglet was done. We ate some good German bread that we had brought from Chicago. We drank the beer and then a few more Steinhaeger shots. Finally, around One o'clock in the morning the pig was finally done. In the meatime we were all quite intoxicated. Nevertheless, we ate that pig that tasted wonderful, even if it was a little wet.
We had many wonderful times in our A-Frame. Even in winter we sometimes went up there (it was in the north). I had bought a used snowmobile made by Ariel, a Wisconsin Company. We could drive around in our large, beautiful forests and the immediate neighborhood. Also, we did not have to drive our car all the way into the forest in winter, which we sometimes could not because the snow was not cleared (It was our private road). So we Parked the car outside on the county street, about 1 mile away, ran on foot to our cabin, and picked up the snowmobile, which in turn we took to pick up our food and water from the car. We wore snowmobile suits, warm gloves and shoes to keep us warm. Helmets also belonged to the equipment.
Our Acy had a great time up there. She could pull Mark on his cross-country skis like a husky dog. We used a strong harness for here and a long rope, like those used for water-skiing. Amazingly, she had no difficulty with the snow and the ice. Now and then she sat down and gnawed away the ice that was frozen between their toes. Really like a husky. Probably there was a husky her ancestry?
We had our own, private gravel road to our weekend cottages. It was named "Lisa Lane" after the sister of Kenny Muller who unfortunately died very young. She had a brain tumor and passed away at about 25 years of age. This road we had to repair occasionally. Thus came Dale Williams, who worked for a construction company in Baileys Harbor, with a truck full of gravel and dumped that stuff out there where necessary. At one point, he had lifted the gravel box halfway up but the gravel and did not want to slide down. So I decide to help out by jumping into the gravel box of the truck and helping to shovel the gravel out of the box. I clung with one hand on the side of the truck and with the other hand, armed with a shovel I tried to help move it out of the huge steel gate. The darn gravel still would not slide out. I had not noticed that while I was in there Dale had put the truck even higher with its hydraulic, and he shook the whole truck back and forth. Suddenly the gravel went off all at once, like an avalanche, and it pulled me down into the depths. I pulled in my head so it would not get hit by the heavy steel gate. I slid along with the gravel out of the box and was buried up to my neck in the gravel. Behind me the steel gate closed with a loud clunk, missing me...barely! My buddies looked at me perplexed and were wondering where the heck I came from? Oh, did I have a stroke of luck, because the door could have fallen on my head and smashed it to bits, and would have squeezed out that bit of brain I had? Yes, one has to be lucky in life. Again I only got away with a big fright. Later, in the bar, I paid a round of drinks because I had survived this mishap.
One great thing we did at that time in Baileys Harbor is to participate in the annual 4th of July parade. Lisa was our great organizer. In 1977, it was the bicentennial celebration of the independence of the United States. So we decided that the theme would be the struggle of the British against the American rebels. I bought an old trailer for about $ 10.00, (thus the “ten-buck-trailer”) and built a large cardboard tube on it to make it look like a cannon. This cardboard tube was about 15” in diameter and was about 12 feet long. I got hold of it from the paper company “Fort Howard” in Green Bay, a good customer of mine. We painted the trailer and the pipe so that they looked presentable. We attached a cross-wire at the upper end. At the bottom of the tube we affixed a bicycle inner-tube. Thus, we had a catapult with which we shot small paper bags filled with white flour. Upon firing those flour-bags up the tube, the cross-wires tore the bags apart and the flour flew in a large arc through the air. It was a funny spectacle! It looked as if smoke came out of the barrel of our canon.We went to the parade and had a lot of fun. We wore uniforms like the American rebels and the British soldiers used to wear. (See my video on YouTube under “Johann Heuchert”)
We went a few times more to similar parades. One time the theme was "presidential election”. We dressed like some of the famous politicians. We were so good that we really should have won a prize. But again and again we would forget to register and thus would not be eligible.
Once Herman and I had bought together bought a mini-bike with a 50 cc engine. This mini bike could also be driven by Mark. Pat, the younger son of Bill and Kay Nelson also had a mini-bike. Thus, these two Rascals could roam around our great forests and the neighborhood. The two had to always wear a safety helmet. They were very well behaved and did so. That was lucky! Because one day Mark came home and was pretty scratched up. He had slipped into an old, dilapidated barbed wire fence he had seen too late when he made a cross-country "motocross" ride through the nearby forests. Fortunately, no bad thing had happened and Mark learned how important it is to be careful and wear a helmet. With Herman I had made ​​several deals. We shared the purchase of a chain-saw because we did not need that thing constantly. Only if we had to cut trees, or if we needed firewood for the winter. Herman & Josée were rarely, if ever, in the winter in Baileys Harbor .
Bill and Kay were only occasionally up there in winter. So it was lovely lonely when we, Sonja, Mark and I went there in winter.
In the winter of 1972, we were on our way back from a day trip to northern Wisconsin. It was bitterly cold, i.e. approximately minus 30 ⁰ F. The roads were very smooth so I drove very carefully. Mark, about 4 years old, slept quietly in the back in his "bed". Suddenly our Ambassador began to cough, gurgling, spitting, and he stuttered to a halt. We were still about 50 miles from home . I tried a few of my tricks, but none did help. It was too cold for the old car. It had given up the ghost. Within minutes it was cold inside the car. On the other side of the street where our car died, there was a bar! Sonja wrapped up our little Mark in a thick blanket and came with me to the bar. From there we called the AAA (American Automobile Club) where we just had become members. In two hours there was one AAA car there and picked us up and brought us home safely.
The next day they they towed the old clunker to Green Bay. I then called a car dealer in Green Bay and asked him how much he is prepared to give me for my pretty wonderful Ambassador of American Motors when I buy from him a new car in cash? He wanted to see the Ambassador first. We wanted to get him to see a functioning automobile and got the car fixed by AAA by repairing the distributor cheaply . In the meantime it had become a little warmer (only minus 10 ⁰ F). We haggled around with the car dealer until he sold me a brand new green, 2-door, Chevrolet Impala V8... for $3,500. He even financed the new car at a low interest rate because he was glad to have sold a car! Remember, the OPEC crisis then had made life miserable for many businesses.
A year later, Herman and I had been drinking all night. Once again we were in the Frontier bar and we got a few drinks behind us. I do not know how it exactly happened? I faintly remember that Herman was driving our brand new car. He wanted to scare me, and drove like a mad man through the area. He went zigzagging between the trees of the nearby golf course . It did not bother me a bit. He was annoyed that I was not afraid. He asked me “aren't you scared yet?” I shrugged my shoulders. As he drove at high speed through Baileys Harbor he turned into a side street, so that the tires squeaked loudly. Suddenly, the car skidded and Herman lost control of my brand new Impala! The car made a 180 degree turn and slid into the ditch. We slid towards a culvert of 3 feet in diameter with a drive way over it. I stretched out and put my left foot on the gas pedal and turned the steering wheel to the left. The V-8 engine and howled and we flew in a high arc out of the trench. But not quite. The right front of the car caught part of the culvert and bent the whole front chassis. We rocked in the truest sense of the word, from left to right back to the "bluff ", where we had our camper. The driver's door did not open anymore. So we stayed in the car and slept into the morning, not quite aware that we just had risked our lifes! It was more than luck that we have survived this episode. Never again have we made such foolish nonsense. By the way: This happened around 1973, when I was 35, and it was our first new car in our life!

House II : 411 Rose lawn Blvd., Green Bay, WI


It was probably in 1975: In the meantime we have moved for the second time in Green Bay. From our very first house at 3809 South Clay St. we have moved to 411 Roselawn Blvd. It was only about 4 blocks further. It was a "Cape Cod" house, which had two floors and was almost twice as large as our first home. It was probably 10 years younger, and was on a quiet, wide boulevard with green islands with trees and bushes. It was probably around 2,200 ft ² (200 m²) in which we had 5 bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a large kitchen and a double garage. Some of the bedrooms were quite small, especially on the upper floor, that was like a finished "attic", with sloping roofs and walls. Our backyard was large and bordered to the Abbey of St. Norbert. We hardly had moved in and we got a dog. We thought that it would be nice to have a dog for Mark. The dog was a good mix, about 14” high. He was black with white paws and tail tip. We called him Tippy. He was young, about 1 year old . A bit like an Irish Setter.
A year later we took him on a visit to northern Wisconsin. It was autumn and the deer hunting season was on. Deer hunting is very popular in Wisconsin! Nearly half a million hunters are in the woods during that short, 12 day hunting season. On the way back I had to stop to take a leak. As I opened the door Tippy jumped out and ran right across the street. Just at that moment came a jeep from the other side and ran over the poor dog. I saw the whole thing. Terrible! I Panicked because I feared that Mark might have jumped out too. Sonya was in shock, holding Mark in her arms so that he does not see the dog who was in a terrible shape. Mark was exactly five years old. The jeep driver stopped a little further away and apologized. But he could not help it that the dog jumped on the road right in front of him. The driver was a hunter and had his rifle along. Tippy laid there on the road with her insides hanging out of her belly, and whimpered and cried. It was horrific! The driver advised me to drive away. He 'll take care of the dog so he does not suffer any more. We drove on for many hours without even saying a word. It was very sad to lose the beautiful dog. But--- that's life, I guess? Thank Goodness nothing happened to our beloved Mark.

Our (second) dog "Acy"

A couple months later our neighbor, Grace Field, told us that she is very sorry that Tippy had died. She herself was an animal lover and had a very pretty Collie (like Lassy). She explained that her daughter had just returned from Minneapolis, and has brought along a puppy she had found on the street of the Twin Cities. She asked whether or not we wanted to try to give this poor dog a place to stay? We hesitated since we had just lost Tippy. Reluctantly we accepted the offer. The dog was only about 6 months old, but was already 15” tall. She was mostly black with white paws, chest, and had a white dots at the end of her tail. She was also a super mix of probably a German Shepherd and Husky. She was very shy at the beginning and was afraid of me. With Sonja she had no problems. But the first 6 months or so she peed and pulled her tail between her legs fearfully and bowed her head in humility and fear, every time I came home. Later, she overcame that fear. Mark liked the dog very much and we kept it, until her death, for 13 years! In winter in Baileys Harbor Acy pulled Mark through the snow like a sled dog. Mark had lots of fun with her. One day our neighbor Grace came over and offered us an insulated dog house for Acy. They kept their collie in the house and therefore he did not need the luxurious dog house. Acy felt very much at home in it. Acy liked to be outside, even in winter. So I build a dog pen for her in our garden. It was along the fence to the neighbors' backyard. Acy had a lot of room to run around, the pen being about 12 feet wide wide and 50 feet long. But the clever beast quickly learned to climb over the fence to run away into the Abbey's backyard where she liked to chase mice. To stop her getting out of the pen I improved the fence by installing an angled extension on the top.
Acy just loved to be at our cottage in Baileys Harbor. There she had many acres of forest where she could sniff around and run her heart out. She protected our A-frame with passion. Once she was chasing skunks who wanted to settle under our cabin. Those critters had apparently taken root under the A-Frame. As Acy tried to chase those intruders away these rascals squirted Acy with their stinking serum and ran away. Now we had to wash Acy with tomato juice. Otherwise, the terrible stench would not go away. We were told that after the first encounter dogs quickly learn to avoid skunks. But not Acy! She was caught 3 times. But then the buggers were suddenly gone. I think they did not like my deodorant!?

Acy looked like a Husky and had beautiful fur. Sonja did not give her simple dog food. No, it was dry dog food with chicken broth over it. That got her coat to shine so that we were afraid that Herman, our friend and fur broker, would take Acy away because of her beautiful fur?
Our Mark first went to a Montessori school. Sonja went to the University of Green Bay and studied parenting. Later, Mark went to public school in Green Bay, called " East High School ".

The RooHaus on Kangaroo Lake ( near Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin)

During a very intense and important meeting in Italy around 1980, Perini's secretary comes to me and whispers to me that Sonja from the United States is on the phone and has something very important to discuss. I apologized and went into the next room to the phone. Sonja tells me "I have found an incredibly beautiful property on Kangaroo Lake, with a nice wooden cottage on it. I want to buy it Sonja said. Is it OK with you, Hans? I asked what it costs ? $125,000 said Sonja because it has 330 feet lake frontage. She further said "the bank is willing to finance it!” I nearly fainted! But said 'OK, go ahead and buy it. It's always been a dream of mine to be on a lake, and especially this lake Kangaroo (not far from the Bluff in Door County) because Mark and I had learned to windsurf there! We had to save like idiots to pay off the mortgage on our house in Green Bay and settle this cottage in Door County at the same time. But we did it!


The RooHaus had about 1,100 sq. feet of living space and was located at the end of Elm Road, in an area that was heavily wooded. The house had a wooden siding made ​​of half-logs that gave the impression of a log house. It had two small bedrooms and a large open area for kitchen and dining room. A LP-gas heater on the wall provided for heat in winter. A narrow wooden staircase lead to the attic where there was room for additional sleeping spaces. The property had a narrow clearing for about 60 feet that led to the lake, which was not deep. Because it was so shallow, it was warm and was excellent for swimming and wind surfing. A separate, small one-stall garage was also there, which was built in the same log-cabin style.

We commissioned an estate agents to sell our A-frame cottage and within a short time we found a buyer who paid a good price for our weekend house. With the money we could pay off part of the new mortgage and thus it helped us financially. The mortgages were actually not that bad. Because we were both working. Sonja as the manager of Optima USA and I at Perini America. We earned good money and paid the highest tax rates. But we were allowed to deduct the interest of our mortgages from our income and thus we paid less tax. And that was great!
It was not too long since we decided to enlarge the RooHaus. We hired Dale Williams, a good friend of ours from Baileys Harbor and his friend Tom Frank, who helped us add a living room of some 330 sq. ft., and a wooden deck of some 260 sq. ft. The kitchen was modernized and we installed an air-tight, “Swedish” wood stove with stainless steel chimney and a heat exchanger. So we could live there in comfort also in the cold winters of Wisconsin. We insulated the addition with glass wool. We also installed the wood paneling. The gas stove we then used only as a night heater and as an anti-freeze oven when we left the cottage alone. The living room had a huge glass window looking to the lake beyond. So we had a nice view and could also watch the birds squirls and raccoons.
Dale Williams, Tom Frank and the Gene Bauldry were our professionals who have helped us with the expansion. Mark and I installed the wiring and some of the plumbing. The airtight wood stove kept us nice and warm in winter. When we knew that we are not going to the cottage for a long time I emptied all the water lines and turned the electric board heater heaters off.
In winter, we were one of the few who went there to the north. Wisconsin is immensely cold in winter. Minus 20 ⁰ F was not uncommon. But, when it was that cold the sun always shone. It is too cold for clouds to form. Mark and I tinkered around one winter and we built a wooden sled with steel runners. Then we mounted a windsurfing sail onto the sled. With this contraption we could windsurf over the frozen lake. This was a great fun! A couple of times Mark brought to the cottage some class mates for the weekend. Once they built an igloo out of ice and snow on the frozen lake.
Over the many years we lived there for the weekend in the RooHaus we enjoyed direct access to the Kangaroo lake where we windsurfed, water skied and swam and frolicked like crazy. With the house came a jetty you could pack away for the winter. That had to be done since the lake froze over in winter. On one of my birthdays, before buying the RooHaus, Sonja gave me a wind surfer as a present. Since the Kangaroo Lake is relatively shallow the water was much warmer than that of nearby Lake Michigan. So we often went there to have fun in the lake. Here Mark surfed together with me on the same "Hy Fly” wind surfing board that we used for almost 20 years. He also learned to windsurf on Kanguroo Lake. Actually, we had learned the sport in the Caribbean where we spent vacation time in a Club Med in Guadeloupe. At that time we also visited the nearby island of Martinique. It was a very nice holiday. One could run around without any money. They gave you a necklace provided with prepaid beads. This was very practical. At the club you could also go swimming, diving, sailing, etc. The food was also very good in the form of a buffet. You ate at wooden tables and benches, where every day you could meet somebody new.
Back to the RooHaus: We also did a lot of cross-country skiing. The frozen lake was ideal for this sport.
In the mid 80's Rita, Sonja 's only sister became very ill. She had leukemia in the bone marrow. Apparently it was caused by the long-term ingestion of Medicine against rheumatism? So we invited her and her husband, Günther Jensen to come to us. We took them to the RooHaus so she could recover nicely. We had bought a small motor boat for their visit so we could have fun on the lake. Once we all four went out fishing. Rita had never fished before in her live. But she caught one fish after another. We were flabbergasted! Günther caught no fish, just as little as I did. Sonja liked fishing a little.

One day we took the boat out onto the lake. We started wondering why the boat was getting lower in the water? I discovered that I had forgotten to put back in the drain plug! We brought the boat just in time to our berth but it was so heavy that we could not heave into the lift. So we removed most of the water by hand until we could cajole ​​it into the boat lift. We then raised the lift and the remaining water ran out by itself. How silly of me to forget the plug? (To err is human...said the porcupine... and got off the toilet brush!)
Rita was a very strong lady. She survived this severe, fatal disease for four years. She had many, so very many chemotherapy sections what she lost all her hair many times. Then the hair grew again, then more chemotherapy, and again she lost her hair. The poor girl made ​​it only to the age of 51.
We used the boat for water skiing and to cart the kids around in inner-tubes. Mark and his buddies became very good water skier. They even skied with a single ski, which I never managed to learn.
Before Rita and Günther flew back home again to Sylt, Germany, Günther decided to clear the woods on the side of RooHaus. Since he had already started it, I've continued the endeavor. There were a few giant trees that I could not bring down on my own. So I got help from Dale Williams with his big, strong crew, saws and ropes, these trees came down in a breeze. He also dug a big hole with a crane and buried the remains, which he had partly burnt. So we did not have to carry away so much stuff. The vacant space in time became very beautiful. But our neighbors asked cynically why we have built a helipad ?

Ubi Bene Ubi Casa
( Home is where life is good )
Chapter VI
My World of Work

FMC Corporation , Green Bay, Wisconsin

At a Machinery Fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, probably the Drupa of 1967, I had lots of fun. Pagendarm sent me there because of my language skills. I was of good use because besides German I could speak French, English, Italian and some Arabic. The customers were Americans, Australians , Italians, French and even a few Arabs. Mr. Erich Pagendarm was blown away. I was not lazy. I worked long hours without ever tiring. The Pagendarm people were impressed.
At that occasion we spoke to an American, a Mr. Dan White, Sales Manager of FMC Corporation out of Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA. He came to find a good manufacturer of laminating machines who was willing to enter into a sales and license agreement. FMC built flexo-printing presses that used similar technology to our laminating machines. We quickly came to an agreement. Thus, the existing representatives, Sichel of New York, was terminated and a contract with FMC was concucted. I worked myself into the contract and went to FMC in Green Bay as an application engineer for 2 years and brought my family along.
I flew on August 1969 via Chicago to Green Bay as a vanguard. Sonja and Mark, who was only 10 months old, came over a few months later. I traveled a lot around to promote the sale of Pagendarm coating and laminating machines. I had a small office and an older secretary (Dorothy was already over 50 ?). She wrote in a secretarial pool for me. My title was "Product Sales Manager" for Coating and Laminating Machines. My first salary was $19,000 per annum. That was good money back then, because one could buy a new Chevy Impala for about $3,500 and a small modest house for some $20,000!
FMC was (and still is) a huge company with approximately $3 billion in annual sales. But our subdivision in Green Bay, called " Packaging Machinery Division," with about 400 people was tiny .. with 0.5 % of total sales. We had about 14 sales engineers who were distributed over the whole, vast country. This included Mexico and Canada. These sales people were working from their home. They sold the various machines that were designed and built in the plant in Green Bay. These were flexographic printing presses for paper and plastic films, plastic bag making machines, packaging and wrapping machines , Napkin Folders, toilet roll paper wrappers, and the like. These sales men were our finders of potential customers. We product managers were the experts, i.e. we brought the technical know-how. I traveled a lot around to the customers to convince them that we had the right machine for their purpose. Our competition was PCMC (Paper Converting Machinery Company), also headquartered in Green Bay. They had the license by a Swiss company called Poly type, which also built coating and laminating maschines as Pagendarm did. PCMC also had a young Swabian sales engineer called Juergen Schäuble, who helped them to sell the machines. Actually Poltytype of Switzerland is the leader in the field. Pagendarm was the number 2 in these years.
When my contract with FMC ended two years later in 1971, I (we) did not want to move away. I had worked day and night and had just pulled in one single job. It was a laminating machine type Lamicoater of 1.200 mm (48”) working width and 300 m/min (1000 fpm) speed. The customer, Superior Packaging of Toronto, Canada was thrilled how well it ran. Until then most machines of this kind and width just managed 200 m/min (600 fpm) laminating speed. One of the three owners was a German immigrant (like me). He was awesome. He could fix a lot of things himself, which had helped us a lot to achieve those speeds and qualities. The other partner was James O'Brien, a very nice Irishman who was responsible for sales. The third partner was a Canadian who was an accountant. They began their company with each pitching in approximately Can. $50,000 as capital. 12 years later, they sold their thriving company for Can. $40 million! A good deal for sure! The German guy realized his dream of a round house. Some years later I met him again. He was retired by then. He told me to never build a round house! He could not find any furniture for round houses and thus wasted a third of the floor area with square furniture in a round house! Again what is learned? Stay with what you know!

In 1971, I extended our stay in the USA working for FMC without a contract, but for a few dollars more. Anyway, Americans rarely work with contracts, so that everyone could move freely. Soon I rolled in the big machine orders. I was making very good money. Rolf Knigge made ​​sure that I frequently got a bonus, to keep me "in line". Of course I had to do a lot of traveling. Pagendarm was so nice back then and has continued paying my German Social Security dues until 1976. Also, I got my potential pension calculated by an insurance professional, who was a friend of my friend Wilfried Kortüm. The expert recommended that I voluntarily pay into the social security fund so that I would get a higher pension later on. Since the dollar was pretty strong at that time, around 3.3 DM/Dollar (about twice as strong as it is today!), I paid in about DM 12,000. This had a strong effect on my pension increase in retirement. One has to think early in life about retirement!

By approximately 1974, I had sold three huge Pagendarm coating machines, where each cost more than 2 million Dollars. One was in Wisconsin built for the production of silicone paper and two were for a Plant in Ohio, built for the production of self-adhesive tapes, such as Scotch and duct tape. These machines were the largest and fastest that Pagendarm had ever built. Unfortunately, these machines were not going well. The customers were getting frustrated. Instead of selling more machines, I had to spend many days, weeks and months,with the technicians and engineers at the customers place to do repairs and improvements to the malfunctioning machines. A machine was installed in the vicinity of Green Bay, the company was called Edgewater situated in Menasha, WI some 40 miles South from Green Bay. It was the widest silicone coating machine that has ever been built, by anyone! Mr. Pagendarm, who was an engineer himself, was trying to do too much. This coater would and would not run properly. The other plants were in Aurora, Ohio at a company called Chemtrol. They were a brand new company that wanted to produce self-adhesive tapes the most modern way. Everything should go fast and fully automatic. Again, Mr. Erich Pagendarm over-did it. At Chemtrol there were three machines: the widest hot melt coating machine available in the world (!) at that time with a nozzle head, a very new, not yet mature technology. The other machine was an 80 m (~262 ft) long and 1.8 m (~ 72 “) wide monster with 3 coating heads in-line and equipped with fully automatic unwinds and rewinds. That machine worked, but not as fast as it had been agreed upon in the sales contract. A very clever, older and shy engineer named Hugo Klein came over from Germany to the US, quite frequently. He made many alterations that every time brought an incremental improvement but still was not enough. FMC ultimately gave up because Pagendarm did not bring the machines to run according to the contractual obligations. In 1975 FMC canceled the sales and licensing agreement and sued Pagendarm for breach of contract. Thus my position as "Product Sales Manager" was very precarious. But FMC needed me, since I had sold those machines, spoke German and had the expertise and specialized knowledge of the coating and laminating technology. FMC lost the suit a few years later because apparently the German court in Hamburg was “Nationalistic ", said Dan White, who in the meantime became the general manager of the Packaging Machinery Division of FMC in Green Bay. How could FMC win, he argued? FMC was then a three-billion-Dollar company and Pagendarm was a small factory with about 50 million marks (about U.S. $15 million at that time) in sales.
Rolf Knigge, CEO of Pagendarm, told me that almost always, when we sold a Pagendarm coating machine he deposited a certain percentage to Mr. Pagendarm's secret account in Switzerland. Since it was a big risk for Mr. Rolf Knigge, he branched of secretly a bit and deposited it in his own secret Swiss account. So they hid all the money from the tax office. One day Mr. Pagendarm found out that some of the loot is being branched off. He became very mad and quarreled terribly with his manager, Mr. Rolf Knigge. Both wanted to sue each other. But because both had dirty fingers they agreed to settle down, though not very friendly. Mr. Pagendarm was lucky because during those years the Tax Office in Germany had offered an amnesty for black-money holders, which he had adopted in order not to end up in jail. He paid a relatively low penalty of 2 million DM and so he was done with it.
Those were very difficult economic times, with the OPEC crisis of 1973 and everything attached to it. Mr. Pagendarm spoke of "healthy downsizing". FMC had to bring the weakly performing machines in motion and has thereby suffered huge losses running into millions of U.S. $.
On the other hand in good years Mr. Pagendarm was generous and gave us for Christmas gold medals as thanks for the good cooperation and good sales. For those who had new-borns he gave a stroller as a present. But he also had personal problems. He liked his BMW and often drove very fast. He often got speeding tickets. At a young age he was a fighter pilot in the Third Reich. Because he once flew under a bridge in Cologne, he was severely punished, he told us. He also had a relationship with Miss Schild, his horny secretary. She was not very pretty but well built. She also had relationships with many others in the company, including our friend Hubes Klamber from Alsace, who was the Pagendarm representative for southern Germany and Alsace-Lorraine. We have invited Hubes a few times to us in our Condominium in Rellingen-Krupunder (North of Hamburg). Mostly, he brought along some good French wine and tasty French snails. He was driving a Citroen, which Sonja and I found great. That car already had a very advanced aerodynamic shape and air suspension. He could go up to 140 MPH. That was the speed of sound for us! We then had a Renault Dauphin 4, that barely managed to reach 80 MPH. Sonja and I visited Hubes a few times in Alsace. He lived in the vicinity of Mulhouse, France. One time he took Sonja along in a glider. She was thrilled. Later we had insufficient wind so he took me to the WWI double-Decker plane that pulled up the gliders. They had no winch on the ground, as it was usually done, to pull up the gliders. They had an old military airfield as a base. The runway was full of bomb craters from the second world war. Hubes was inside the bi-plane and I had to run along-side of it holding the lower wing. Hubes would yell at me telling me to pull back or to run faster so that we would avoid the bomb craters. I had to run at a gallop. Arrived at the other end of the runway I was bathed in sweat, I jumped into the plane while Hubes gave full throttle. The oil was dripping from the 6-cylinder, upside-down in-line engine. Hubes said "dripping oil is good and must be so (!)... then we know that there is oil in it "!!! We flew a few laps and enjoyed it, despite the infernal noise made ​​by the old engine. We lucked out! 4 months later Hubes told us that the old biplane crashed and the pilot was killed. Yes, one has to be at the right time at the right place! :-)

A few years later, the lovely wife of Pagendarm divorced him, because of his many affairs. He sometimes quarreled with the customer. Because he was the engineer and what he says is correct. He has thus lost some orders. Fortunately, he let me and my clients mostly in peace. Because he could not speak any foreign languages ​​, such as Spanish, Italian, French or English! So I had a good time. One of my best customers was Jaime Zaragoza of Grafo Regia in Monterrey, Mexico. He bought a large machine for his company, one of the largest breweries in Mexico. They were vertically integrated. They owned steel mills in order to make the steel they needed for the crown beer bottle caps. They owned glass works to make the beer bottles. They owned paper mills, to make the labels for beer bottles​. Thus, they also owned the printing presses to print the labels. These labels had to be coated with lacquer. That coating machine I sold him. It also coated the label with adhesive so it would stick to the bottle. We were often together in Hamburg and had a very good time because he had a great sense of humor. One time we flew to Copenhagen and he paid the flight so I am at his side. When we sat in the front of the plane, business class of course, someone knocks on my shoulder. It was Herman Jansen of Green Bay, my friend fur trader. He was on his way to Copenhagen to auction off furs. How small is the world? I was also very often in Monterrey visiting Jaime's plant. There he had the most advanced printing equipment available. He had to run them with professionals, mostly experienced master-printers from Europe.

Convex Corporation 1976

One day Rolf Knigge called me and told me that he is leaving Pagendarm and with a partner he is starting his own company. He asked me if I want to represent them in North America? Since it looked bad with my position at FMC, I accepted the offer and together with Sonja in 1976 I started our own company, Convex Corporation. It was very easy to start the company. Sonja registered it in a day in Madison, capital of Wisconsin, for about $50.00. (Fifty) Sonja and her girlfriend Kathy Heitl, used the popular reference book "Walden's ABC" to create a customer list. Like crazy people we faxed our sales letters to the potential buyers. We worked out of our home. We also called a lot of potential customers by phone, since the phone is cheap in America.

One day I was contacted by the Spanish representative of Pagendarm, a Mario-Berendt Voss. He asked me if I want to sell some extruders? They were built in Spain and are of very good quality. He had heard that I had started my own business. I accepted his offer. That was the lifebelt that kept us afloat because pretty soon I sold several of these extruders. They produced plastic mesh material as seen at construction sites as a barriers, usually in orange. Mario did not like to pay me the commission of 10 %. An extruder at that time cost about $150,000. I often had to fly to Barcelona to force him to hand me over my money. Nevertheless it was fun to work with him because he was very funny and was liked fine dining. (Me too!) It fit him well because he was overweight by at least 40 kg (~88 lbs). So I was often in Barcelona to pick up our money. It made me very nervous to travel with so much money in the suitcase. Luckily I 've never been caught. We saved a lot of this money. We also had to because I traveled like crazy and that cost money. Fortunately, Sonja and I were diligent savers. Where we could, we saved something for a rainy day. It was also relatively easy in America because the deductions, i.e. the tax burden were not so high.
Knigge asked me in 1977 to Berlin to meet his company, which was called Inter-Union. Since I also had a meeting with Mario at a fair in Dusseldorf I accepted Knigge 's invitation. His partner was dressed elegantly and seamed to be millionaire. I was picked up with a big Mercedes from the airport. We stayed at a 5=Star Hotel, all paid for. He told told us that he had many subsidiaries. In Zurich, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Luxembourg, Munich, etc. All were profitable enterprises, he said. After one year, the whole thing fell apart. The partners had no money. Everything was borrowed. A subsidiary paid the other so that there was money in the books. He was an impostor and was busted for tax evasion!.
Knigge then ran to the Wilfried Kortüm who had started his own company building coaters and laminators, like Pagendarm, but cheaper. He had founded a new company called HMV . (Hamburger Maschinen Vertrieb). Since his company was small he could be much cheaper. I decided to represent HMV instead of the Inter-Union. Actually, it was all the same, more or less. I had already had the addresses of potential customers and needed to exchange only the brochures. It cost these companies also nothing to be represented by me as I only worked on pure commission. Usually for a commission of 10 %. One day I managed to sell an Extruder-Laminator offered by HMV to Transilwrap in Chicago. The owner, Mort Minkus, was a very nice businessman of Jewish faith. Mort had wired the down[payment and the manufacturing started. 6 months into the project Kortüm called me and said that he is broke. He had also was fighting with Rolf Knigge, his partner. I was devastated when I heard this awful news. Here I work like an idiot, spend my little, hard-earned money and finally sell a nice machine, and these firms argue and go bankrupt ! ! Immediately I communicated the bad news to Mort at Transitional by phone. I then jumped into my Honda Civic, my inexpensive company car, and hustle in a rush to Chicago to see Mort Minkus and explain the precarious situation. I arrived there in four hours. He had already worked out a plan with his very capable manager and cousin Herbert. It was decided to fly to Hamburg to visit HMV and to save what can still can be saved. Convex Corporation, my company, gets paid anyway, because Transilwrap promised to pay me as translator, consultant and engineer to bring the situation back into balance. We flew to Hamburg. Mort, and Herbert in business class, I was on the wing, no "coach" (tourist class). Yes, they paid the flight. In Hamburg, we negotiate with Kortüm and the sequestering agent and secure the various parts and components of the machine that were almost finished. The components only needed to be assembled. I secured the cooperation of the Master-mechanic of HMV (who was now unemployed) and he made sure that the parts are shipped to Chicago. The Master came later to Chicago, and mounted nicely all the parts and gets the machine to run. Transilwrap is very grateful and does not give me the 10% that I would have gotten from HMV (If they would not have gone bankrupt). I received about 6 %, which was incredibly generous. So I have a very positive experience made ​​with the Jewish Mort Minkus Mort and Co. This positive experience I bring up again and again when I meet people that show the anti-Semitic attitudes.

Fabio Perini SpA Lucca, Italy

(In the meantime (about 1993) purchased by the Körber Group of Germany)
As the transactions were not very good at our Convex Corporation, I was very interested to consider other representations. One day, John Rudolf, a good friend of mine from Green Bay, .who worked for PCMC of Green Bay recommended for me to contact Fabio Perini of Lucca, Italy. I wrote to them, circa 1977, and told them that I live in Green Bay, where their main and only competition PCMC is located and I would like to represent them. I told them that I speak Italian, have a lot of experience with winders, because similar ones have also been used in Pagendarm machines, and I am pleased to give PCMC some competition. There were no six days elapsed when I got a call from Carlo Silvestri, the sales manager of Fabio Perini SpA from Lucca, Italy. He spoke very good English because he was born in Tanzania and studied in London, UK. He had just returned from a trip to North America where he wanted to look one could conquer this enormous North American market? During that call, he told me later, were assembled the entire management of Perini in a conference to decide how to go ahead with the North American market. The owner, Fabio Perini and his managing director, Ettore Bartoloni St. owner and the financier Alfredo Puccinelli were there. It was like a sign from heaven, Ettore told me later, and said: Here we deliberate our marketing strategy for North America, and here comes your letter, and tells us how easily one can do it. They wanted to see me immediately. I said that I have a lot to do (White Lie!), but I could probably visit next Monday, that is in 4 days. Well, they did not know that I was anyway planning to go once again to Barcelona to pick up money from Mario. We had already sold a few more extruders. I flew to Pisa, the nearest airport to Lucca, where Perini was located. At the airport the sales manager, the Carlo Silvestri picked me up. I was wearing my best suit (maybe not my best suit ... but mine only one!?) In order to make a good impression. The nice receptionist Rosemary, an English woman, greeted me and said that the men up in the office of Managing Director Ettore are waiting for us. We walked up the beautiful, imposing, 2.5 m (~8 ft) wide, spiral staircase and went into the modern office, walking through 3 m (~10 ft) high glass doors. The entire space was wood paneled with black contrast stripes. Very impressive indeed! They were all gathered, including Fabio Perini, the chief and owner of Fabio Perini SpA, about my age, (I was 39 years old), then Carlo Silvestri probably the youngest in the round was about 6 years younger than me, the plant manager Giuseppe Mazzotti and the financial officer Alfredo Pucinelli were also there, both about my age.
We started a friendly conversation. Carlo, who spoke English very well, because he was born in Tanzania and had studied engineering in London, translated for us. Then I asked politely if we could not try to talk Italian, even if I was a little rusty in this language. Pleasantly surprised they all said OK, let's try. Fabio spoke as good as not a single word of English. Ettore, Alfredo and Giuseppe could just bring a few simple English phrases to the table. So they were very happy that that an American / German can talk Italian. First it was a little difficult, but slowly and surely came through my knowledge of Italian that I had learned nearly 30 years earlier at the Istituto Don Bosco of Alexandria, Egypt. Once learned one forgets not so easy ? We had a sumptuous meal at a fine restaurant in the area. It was situated on the famous city-walls "Le Mure" of Lucca. I was impressed. The men seemed to be swimming in money? This restaurant "Sulle Mure" (on the walls ) was very well known in the area. Back in the 1940 - years the "Duce" Mussolini dined there! After the sumptuous meal, with wine and grappa and a strong espresso, we went back to work. The offices and the plant were very modern. Probably built only a few years ago? Giuseppe led me through the factory where a few machines stood in the assembly hall. He explained that Perini had a total workforce of around 35 people. Approximately 70 % of machine parts are manufactured outside, he said. This was typical in Italy , as I learned later. It was interesting that they had 6 service-technicians. Their latest machine was the "450”, a toilet roll rewinder designed in a modular system. One could buy modules initially or later. So they could keep several modules already in stock and therefore, assemble them quickly at the request of the customer. Thus making a simple machine or a complex one that could also produce kitchen rolls. The simplicity of the Perini machine was very impressive. And as the Italians are , the machines were also pretty!
Back in the office we met again with the top managers. We talked for a little further. I was told that Perini had sold until then 3 Automatic Winder Model "450". One was in South Africa, one in Venice and one in France. The machines were running up to 500 m/min (1640 fpm) and work similar to the competing model 150 of PCMC, which could run up to 460 m/min (1500 fpm). PCMC recently introduced the model “200” that probably ran faster, up to 610 m/min (2000 fpm), but was much more expensive and much more complicated. I was highly impressed by Perini. The Perini management was relatively young, seemed to be open-minded and quite aggressive. I liked that. I had a good gut feeling about this company (not just because of the good meal, wine and grappa ?)
Late that afternoon (the Italians mostly work late into the night), we had an agreement and sealed it with a friendly handshake. For a trial period of 1 year I should be their representative in North America , being Canada , Mexico and the United States. A 10 % commission would be paid on all sales. Carlo invited me to dinner where I told him that I want to have something simple to eat since I had not even digested lunch yet. So we walked at 20:00 o'clock to a small restaurant near my hotel that Perini had booked for me. Carlo lived not far away from this place. We had a light dinner, for Italian conditions, and then he brought me to the hotel. I was obviously blown away!
The hotel was called "La Principessa" (the princess). It was hidden on park-like grounds, along the old road to Pisa. It was a mansion that was formerly inhabited by Caroline Bonaparte, sister of Napoleon Bonaparte. (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caroline_Bonaparte) It kept the outside of the original old style but inside it was completely renovated. It even had a lift up to the 4th floor. The elevator was tiny. It fit into just 2 people, but they had to be slim! The rooms were nicely done in antique decor. Yes, it was antique, right? All rooms have a bath with shower. But no shower curtain. I did not mind this because there was a drain right in the middle of the bathroom. Nevertheless, the carpet outside the bathroom door was always quite wet. But later my American guests have repeatedly complained that everything was wet. It is interesting to note that many, if not all hotels provide no shower curtain in Italy? Funny? The next day I was driven to the typical, Italian breakfast, a cappuccino and a brioche. Rosemarie drove me to the airport, which is located through the tunnel between Lucca and Pisa. She told me that she is from Scotland and studied Italian in Lucca. She liked the language, the country and the people and decided to stay there. Later, she married a real Lucchese, and had 2 or more children with him. She was very helpful because she was intelligent and diligent.
Back home in Green Bay the sales agreement with Perini was vigorously celebrated because we looked very hopeful into the future. Again, we were able to use all those addresses that Kathy and Sonja had compiled to contact potential Perini customers. It was actually much easier than the other industries, because the so=called "tissue industry" was much smaller in size. There were very familiar names in there such as Procter & Gamble, who had two plants in Green Bay, James River (in 2010 became part of Koch Industries) , who also had two plants in Green Bay. Not far from Green bay was the Kimberly Clark Corporation in Menasha (approx. 60 Km (40 mls) where they had their Central engineering Bureau. Also Fort Howard (now Koch Industries) , had a large plant in Green Bay.
We then worked the telex, fax machine and later on also mailed circulars to promote the sale of Perini machines covering the Big World of North America.
The greatest interest was shown by Fort Howard Paper Co. , which were fortunately in Green Bay. They did not like the monopoly of the PCMC that was had become arrogant and very expensive over the years. They received me as the Perini representative with open arms. They were also one of the best-managed companies in this industry. They soon sent one of their engineers to Lucca to find out what was going on there with Perini. I of course went with my clients to lead them by the hand in a foreign country. I traveled with them to the company near Venice, which had a "450" rewinder. The Fort Howard engineer was amazed how well the winder ran. He wanted to have the quotes to negotiate with management at home. There I was told that they were working on a winder of their own design for 2 years. It was so-called "surface rewinder" as they were formerly built by FMC, known then as the Hudson-Sharp rewinder. The Perini winder was also a surface rewinder. They liked the Perini design because the technology was at the same level as theirs. One must also know, that's the PCMC winder, our competition, is a "center-shaft-rewinder". This winding concept is so much more complicated. That is also the reason why PCMC 's winders are so much more expensive! Their prices were nearly twice as high as ours. Fort Howard then made ​​an offer where they would buy a machine from us, on trial. Should it not bring them what they expect, then they would get their money back and we would take back the machine without questions asked. The brave and clever Manager at Perini took up the challenge and accepted the offer. This quasi-sale brought the life into our endeavor. The delivery time was only 6 months. (PCMC always needed at least a year to deliver one of their complicated machines!) So I rolled up my sleeves up and dug further.
Then I came upon a company, which was called "Marcel Paper", situated in Elmwood Park, NJ (New Jersey, on the east coast , not far from New York City). Since these people showed great interest I visited them. I had to fly to La Guardia from Green Bay over Chicago to New York. There I rented a car and drove for about 60 Km. The president of the company, Mr. Robert Marcalus, told me that he was two years ago in Lucca where he had looked at a Perini winder. (Perini had forgotten to tell me that). He was of the opinion that I should not receive any commission because they will negotiate directly with Perini and buy directly. I talked with the management in Lucca and I assured the miserly Mr. Marcalus that I will work for no commission. He liked that and he got my support (he could not speak Italian) and I still got my commission in secret .... haha! ). The machine was then one of the largest that Perini had ever built. It could make toilet rolls and kitchen rolls with embossing. The machine had two giant unwinds of 2.5 m (~10 ft) in diameter, the largest far and wide. The machine was 2.75 m (108”) wide, wider than most, f not all PCMC machines of the time.
Unfortunately, we later got problems with this company because they were never satisfied with the quality of the goods (toilet and kitchen rolls). Their paper was 100 % recycled paper that was from a low quality, thin and full of holes. I often had to visit there to help the Italian engineer make modifications to satisfy the customer. In the end he was satisfied only by 80% and Perini had to give him a generous discount so he finally stopped bitching.
But the story did not stop there. After a few years Perini was sued by a worker from Marcal. He was injured by the machine and had lost part of his hand. We had to hire defense lawyers, one from New Jersey and one from Wisconsin. At the time I had sold our Convex to Perini and Sonja and I founded Perini America Inc. in Green Bay. In the lawsuit, we found out that the workers often 'high' on drugs, had bypassed the safety switches on the machine, and then gone into the machine as it was still running, a strict offense! He slipped and got his hand between the embossing rolls. After many trips to the scene of the “crime”, with or without a lawyers we had spent about $65,000 in legal fees in 2 years. We were advised by the judge to compromise because we had no chance to win the case. He explained that we would have to stand in front of a jury consistent mainly of local workers, who matter what the facts will side with the poor worker who had lost his hand. It wasn't a matter of justice, it was emotions before facts. So we took the deal and settled for a payment of $45,000 paid by the injured worker. We were declared not guilty and the case was closed!
We had insured ourselves against such legal problems. It was called "Product Liability Insurance". This insurance had become a must in the U.S. industry. Each and any guy can sue you and every dumb person has the right to a trial by jury. Although we i.e. Perini America, at that time were still a very small organization, we had a turnover of some 3 million Dollars per year. This revenue was then decisive for the insurance sum, although we have not made ​​the machines ourselves. So we had to pay about $ 45,000 insurance per year. Since Perini in Italy was not insured, we covered ourselves. We then debited the Italians for these expenses. It really is a madness here in America with this insurance business. It is limitless and the lawyers enrich themselves like crazy! Any doctor, machinery manufacturers, etc., had to insure himself for a lot of money. This is the reason why for example health insurance has become so expensive here in the U.S. The politicians who are mostly lawyers, do nothing about it, because they have an interest in it. This is a very bad situation here.
On the other hand, they 've got a good solution for improving accident prevention. In the U.S., there is a "Workers Compensation Insurance ". A state sponsored accident insurance. Each employer pays a premium that depends on the number of staff and the number of accidents he has. It can reduce the premium by having fewer accidents. As a result, a strong incentive was given to make the workplace safer. For this, the worker who has an accident can not sue the employer for damages. He gets money from the accident insurance. But he can sue the Machinery manufacturers because supposedly the machine was not built with sufficient safety features. So we had to make the equipment "idiot proof" so that nobody could hurt him or herself. So we always made lots of pictures of the safety switches and guards before shipment. This in order to have proof that the machine was safe and it was the operator who changed things. Because that was always a strong accusation that the machine was not adequately secured. This problem was at its worst in older companies, like as our competition, PCMC . The 80 -year-old company had many machine that had changed hands 3 or 4, or 5 times. By then some of the guards had disappeared. Furthermore, the safety norms of 80 years ago were different than those of today. Therefore these stupid lawyers sue and say "pay here because the machine was not safe ". It was a constant battle with the lawyers who are greedy and often illogical, just to get to the money. Of course, these vultures claimed that they did it only in the interest of their clients. There are also a few attorneys that actually mean well. But these are rare and in the minority.
In the first year of Perini America we had already sold 2 Perini winder and many other jobs were lying in wait for us. That's when I met again with John Rudolf in Green Bay. He was overjoyed that his assessment of Perini as a dangerous competitor of PCMC was right. So I asked him whilst having a glass of wine (Chateau Miramar) if he would be willing to work with me? He thought about it for 2 weeks and said "yes "!
When the Italians heard this, they were thrilled. To steal one of the better sales guys of PCMC would be a grand coup unparalleled. John was a good man to hire with many, many years of experience and at the same time hurt the competition, which is ideal, they said !
As we sat down, John and I, in Lucca we discussed how this can be achieved? The wily Italians saw the potential and wanted to secure the market. They made the proposal to buy our Convex Corporation. Then I would be the manager of the daughter that I should start in Green Bay. We needed the subsidiary in order to be bale to finance the hiring of John. I submitted a financial statement of our Convex Corporation where I showed in detail how well we were doing. (I exaggerate a little in order to get a good price for our Convex. We negotiated back and forth and ultimately came to an agreement: Perini pays $150,000 for Convex and I receive a generous salary was made the executive vice president . The president was the Fabio Perini.
John and I flew to Lucca and negotiated the contract. It worked out well because the Italians were very reasonable. On the other hand, we were not too greedy in order not to kill the project. I was appointed Managing Director and Vice President with a generous profit sharing of 20%. John was also appointed as VP, but without the " Executive" and he would cover Latin America, which he had done for PCMC for many years. I immediately called Sonja in Green Bay and asked her to go to Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, and register and incorporate Perini America Inc. It was probably 1978. Sonja also opened a bank account so that Perini Italy was able to send money there, which was done promptly. John had already terminated his job at PCMC and immediately informed his numerous contacts. In the beginning Perini America was also covering western South America because Perini Brazil had not enough capacity to do so. On the other hand, John had known many potential customers in that area. He spoke perfect Spanish because he lived a few years (4 ?) in Cuba. (before Castro).
Once in Green Bay, we looked for an office because we no longer could work out of our humble home on Roselawn Blvd. We also hired a secretary immediately. One of our neighbors was a real estate broker and had built a nice, big office building not far from our house, right along the Fox River. We rented a corner with about 300 m² (~3.300 sq. ft) for 2 offices, a conference room and a room for the secretary. The new office building was not yet finished, so we used our house for a few more weeks. Then we moved to 3501 Riverside Drive office building. Besides selling the Perini machines I had to select the interior colors, the design of the conference table, the shades, etc. John was on his way to Venezuela and Colombia, where he wanted to haul-in some orders.
Before one of my many sales trips I told the electrician that I wanted to have a connection for an espresso machine. I already had an espresso machine from Italy, which ran on 220 ​​volts, instead of the normal 110 volts of America. Later I saw the bill of about $250 and nearly fainted! The espresso machine I got as a gift from Perini Italia. It was an expensive gift? Actually, it was not a gift. One of our customers, Orchids Paper from California, had bought 5 winders from Perini. The project engineer, Manuel Alvarez, requested an espresso machine to be delivered hidden inside the machine. So I said, "Give us two such machines, one for the customer and one for us”!
When John came back from South America, the office was ready. He looked around suspiciously. Then he asked, "who has chosen this Kakka-brown color? I told him "I". Again I explained, the "Maroon" color was my favorite color and it was NOT Kakka-brown (! ?!). He whispered, "beautiful shit!"Already then I experienced some frictions between him and me. Because he was over 30 years older than me he wanted to be the superior, but this did not fit well with me. We often had quarrels and sometimes even controversies. In short: We did not get along very well.
The customers who visited us were clearly impressed by our office. Finally, they said, a competition for PCMC. In the meantime, Fort Howard had accepted the first machine and ordered 4 more,at some $500,000 each ! John came home and had sold two winders to Venezuela. The business went mad. The Italians were delighted. They worked overtime like crazy. I was flying to Lucca so often, mostly with clients, that I lost count. Quite often I stayed over there for three weeks looking after many customers.
After 2 years, that is around 1979, I caught John as he offered napkin folders in South America which we, i.e. Perini never built. We got into a big argument with each other. The Italians preferred arbitration because they did not want to hurt the old man (John). I wanted to throw him out for his misconduct. The Italians seemed accustomed to be cheated? But they wanted to get rid of him. So it was against my will, when we paid John $35,000 and asked him to leave us for good. He had secretly hired a small engineering company in Green Bay to design and build the small folding machine, which he sold in addition to our Perini winders. The company he hired was called Green Bay Engineering (GBE) and belonged to Dave Fischer an ex-PCMC guy. Later in the years we worked with him because he did a very good job. With him we have pulled through other projects at Perini America. He built for us some log-storage units, which we had sold to James River Corporation, today a division of Koch Industries. These systems were installed in their plant in Boise Cascade, Idaho to sort roles of different colors and deliver them to the packaging plants. Because they wanted to have in a 4-pack unit with 4 toilet rolls each of a different color! Yes, the American housewife had a different color in each of their many toilets (in America: Bathrooms). For this purpose she needed the toilet rolls to match the color of the bathroom. But we had a lot of electronic problems with this system, we and thus we lost lots of money on this project. We never offered such a log storage units again. Also, the Italians did not like it when we manufactured to many components here in the U.S. at Perini America. But this was again and again something I wanted to do.
With John out of the house I hired two young guys to replace him. It was Michael Koval and Tom Jacques. Both had just arrived at age 22 from the University. Michael spoke a little Spanish. Tom spoke good Spanish plus French (his ancestors were from Quebec). I immediately began to train them “on the job”. We traveled together to our customers. Both were good sales men. PCMC did not understand why we had so much success? Their salesmen were all engineers. I did not believe in this setting. The average engineer is inflexible and lost in details. I always found that a non-engineer can learn the basic technology and can quickly and easily get his sales-psychology to work. Michael Koval has done very well and had a good rapport with our Latin American customers. He left us after 2 years and later became a vice president of PCMC. Tom Jacques later also escaped to PCMC.
After Michael Koval left us I hired Gary Urban whom I had interviewed two years earlier. He was from Green Bay and spoke perfect Spanish. (The University of Green Bay had an excellent Spanish teacher!) Gary covered South America where he has done a great job. He worked so much that his wife suddenly ran off. She had begun an affair with another man in his absence, he said. He was desperate, but overcame the calamity because life always goes on. He was later the manager of Perini America Latina which we had split-off from Perini America (against my will!). He married a very nice young German woman called Marina, whom he had met through Sonja and I. Marina lived with us as for a short while. She was sent as an intern by Optima of Germany, for whom Sonja was working and Perini America was managing their spare parts business.
We sold more Toilet roll rewinders. So we needed spare parts and technicians. We also needed more space. That's when I met a Mr. Tony Frigo in Green Bay. He was the mayor of Ashwaubenon, a suburb of Green Bay. He told me that his old office building had become too small and they had to move. We decided to buy the building. He advised me to make a low bid, that he would accept. He was a co-owner of a large cheese factory (FRIGO CHEESE) in Wisconsin that he had sold to an English company. His Italian, mafioso-style came through? But he wanted no counter favor, oddly ? Maybe because I spoke Italian to him, he felt an amicable connection? We had a town meeting. The neighbors had concerns because we wanted to change the zoning to light industrial. They thought that I wanted to build a heavy industry in their vicinity, and thus they would resist the purchase. He told me not to talk to much. Let the people chatter, he said. Just listen patiently. We'll get through this alright. The day passed. The stupid talk was over and we got the OK to buy! The funding we had previously arranged. And so it went quickly across the stage for a cost of $160,000. The price included 4 other parcels of land on which one could build Duplexes. The building was once a fire station with about 1,000 m² (11,000 sq.ft.) We had a bunch of offices, an assembly hall, a spare parts warehouse and a large parking lot . A few years later we sold the property for $225,000, without the building lots, which we sold later separately. That was probably the best deal that we have ever done? Well, we had to pay lots of income tax! And you only pay taxes when you make a profit !
At the time our patent lawyer Francis Bouda asked if we could help a German company with spare parts storage? This company was called Optima who made ​ packaging machines for diapers. We concluded a deal and Sonja was the manager of Optima USA, in the same office building as Perini America. We got rent and a share of profits. The people of Optima were very generous with their contract. We were referred to as "representatives" from time to time and also helped their sales people and technicians. I visited them a few times in Schwäbisch Hall. There I got to know the owner, a Mr. Bühler. His son, Hans was in their R & D department.
My friends at Perini in Italy were suspicious about this change and move to Ashwaubenon. They thought that I have pushed funds into my own pocket? They were very upset that I had made this change so quickly without their knowledge. They did not understand that it was a big tax advantage for me because I was able to deduct the mortgage interest from my income. It was also an advantage for Perini America because there was suddenly a lot more space for more offices, technicians and spare parts for us and for Optima. In addition, the rent for Perini America was relatively low because I wanted to make no profit on it. It was enough to cover my costs.
It was not long and we had 2 technicians. From time to time they had not much to do. So I bought a car kit. It was a Mercedes SSK Replica Sportster that one has to built on the chassis of a Ford Pinto. So I had the technicians who were well paid to do something when they were at home. The car was not ready for a long time. Because again we had a lot of installation work and the technicians were not at home. I advertised for a car mechanic to complete the replica. A biker arrived, with long hair, beard and trousers to the knees, leather vest, and applied for the job. I was stupefied when I saw him. He came to my office and I was blown away. He spoke softly, and a good , clear English. He was well mannered. Despite his brutal external I hired him and paid him per hour of work done. He was not fast, but very thorough. This surprised me. After about 3 months he had completed the Mercedes. So he left. Sonja and I drove the open car a few times to Baileys Harbor, but did not like it very much. It was loud, the wind whistling around your ears was aggravating. Upon returning t the office, we sold the car.
The spare parts business of Optima went very well. Sonja had her hands full. She had hired several people and set up a computer system for spare parts and accounting system. They negotiated with the customers , mainly Kimberly Clark and Procter & Gamble. They managed the store excellently. They Traveled to Schwäbisch Hall, Germany to solve existing problems. Sales of spare parts increased. So one day the manager of Optima came to me and told me that they wanted to have their own representation now and cancel my contract. I told them that he can not do that! He insisted. We began to argue. Perini America hired a lawyer. Optima also hired one.

By accident one day a letter from Optima's lawyer came into my hands. In it, he recommended Optima not to quarrel with Perini America because there is a law in Wisconsin that the representative can not be fired if he has done good work. This was an ancient law from 1910 that was enacted because the Ford Motor Co., the car maker, wanted to fire all their representatives because they wanted to set up their own Agencies. That would have meant that many thousands of workers would have been unemployed. This old law benefited us and we forced Optima to negotiate. We agreed then to terminate the contract for a lump sum of $350,000. (First I wanted to have a million ?) It was also agreed that Optima America would take over Sonja as manager, plus the other personnel involved with their spre parts business.
Again, the Italians in Lucca were very suspicious about my handling of the situation. (They always are afraid of being cheated: A thief fears to be robbed , I wondered ?) But this was not necessary, because I invested this money into buying a large and beautiful piece of land in the Ashwaubenon Industrial Park of Green Bay. I convinced Perini Italia to build an office building there with a large assembly hall. They helped me with the financing (black money ?). I hired an architect and began to make designs of an office building with him. We presented our ideas to the Italians and then we agreed. Thus we began construction on 28th of March 1987 when ground was broken for the pretty building of Perini America, Inc. also here I had lots of fun . Because it was very interesting to work with the architecture firm to build the building. Perini America then moved into the new building and Sonja remained in the previous building that Optima had purchased from us. Their business was very successful and Sonja had her hands full.

One of our first clients at Perini America was Orchids Paper, headquartered in Los Angeles, California. The big boss there was Orville Simms. His Technical Director was Manuel Alvarez, a Spaniard who emigrated to America. Orchids had a converting plant in Los Angeles and a paper mill in Prior, Oklahoma and one in Flagstaff, Arizona. Orchids was a subsidiary of ALP, a holding company based in Miami, Florida. There I met the even bigger boss, whose name was Lenny Leifert. He was Jewish and a very nice person and a formidable negotiator with an amicable humor. He always came to Italy when Orchids Paper wanted to buy winders. They were one of the first customers, equal to Fort Howard and Marcal Paper. Once we met in Lucca for the purchase of 5 winder lines. Perini was astounded. They had probably heard that there are sometimes large orders in America but also for them? I flew to Pisa ahead of them and picked them up the next day at the airport and took them to the Perini plant in Lucca. They were very impressed. The Italians asked me “are they really talking about 5 machines?” One of the 5 should be 3.2 m wide. So far no one had, not even the 100 year old competition : PCMC , had ever built such a large toilet-roll winding machine. The courageous Perini people said but "we can do that”. It was negotiated for 3 days. Manuel Alvarez, an engineer, asked many stupid and dumb questions. I had to constantly translate. Once Lenny said "my name is not Lui” ! We laughed, because when I translated I kept saying "Lui dice” , which means "he says" in Italian. He heard the word "Lui" so often that it sounded as if it was his name. In between, of course we went to dinner. Which were very elaborate. Ah, that Tuscan cuisine! They ate like lions that gorgeous Tuscan food. I had to be careful when Manuel said something. He had a a strong, Spanish accent and did not speak clearly. He also knew enough Italian that he corrected me repeatedly if my translation was not so accurate, in his opinion. He was always happy to talk to Fabio Perini, our chief and owner, and great inventor. Manuel and I had a difficult relationship because he looked at me as a cheap salesman who only chatted stupid stuff to sell a machine. Often it was Lenny, who brought the negotiations back on the floor. His interest was to buy for the lowest price possible as many machines as possible.
Lenny also created the purchase agreement, which included that if Orchids did not like the delivered machines, they can send them back again, without much talk. My brave Italians accepted the contract for a 3.2 m wide and two 2.4 m wide kitchen towel machines, plus two 2.6 m wide toilet roll winders with steel-on-steel embossing modules. This was the largest order Perini ever had received. It was practically an entire yearly production of Perini, which was then about 6 million U.S. $. I was a hero for the Italians. They worked like madmen, with many overtime hours that were paid under the table. We did not need to bribe anyone. The only favor we did was an espresso coffee machine for Manuel. Of course, we hosted the Orchid people like kings. Perini paid the hotel, of course "La Principessa", with all expenses, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Italians were very generous. In the summer we had champagne at the swimming pool. We lived like God in France.
One condition was that of Orville and Manuel wanted to do trials with their own tissue paper on one of the newer Perini "450" winders that was in France at a company called SEPT. Orchids shipped 12 giant parent rolls of about 2 m in diameter and 2.4 m width to SEPT. We met there and produced toilet rolls running up to a speed of 560 m/min (~1,800 fpm). They were impressed. The Perini representative for France Jean Nietzsche was also there and gave us a hand. That evening, after dinner, Orville wanted to go to a night club. I went along to help with my meager French. We heard soft music in the background. There came a lady to us and asked if we needed a conversation? The grandiose Orville immediately said yes without asking any questions. More pretty young ladies came and sat with us. They were hostesses! Orville and Manuel did not understand a word. They ordered champagne and snacks and let themselves be courted by the sexy ladies. I whispered to Orville that I had only about $200 with me and I can not pay the bill. No problem, he said. I have credit cards! I whispered to him, most likely they do not accept credit cards here? He did not care. He was in love with the two ladies who have sat on his lap. Manuel and I were more shy and looked on. I translated as best as I could. Then came the time to go away. Orville got the bill and he almost fell off the chair. He was tipsy in the meantime and was noisy because the sum was so high. I tried to interpret what the owner told him how the final price came to be. He was enraged that they did not accept his credit cards. This irritated him very much. He yelled “in America one can even pay the toilet fee with credit cards”. In short, the woman had called the police at the checkout. The police said you used the services, you pay! I gave Orville my $200, Manuel had about $ 400 and Orville had to cough up the rest of about $1,200 ! Very upset, he went with us to the hotel.
The next morning I met him at the check-out. Again, he had a phone bill of $800, and argued about it being too high. I translated for him that he had used the phone for 2 hours earlier in the day to talk to his office in the United States. He complained that it is piracy because it was so expensive. At the end he had to pay. At least here he could pay with his credit card. He had no idea that it is very expensive to use the Hotel phone in Europe.
In any case, the trials with their tissue were successful, and the order for 5 machines went through. About a year later, the first winder was installed and running. But they did not run to the satisfaction of the our Manuel. We sent one of our best engineers, Paulo Mecchi, from Italy to Pryor, Oklahoma where two of the machines were set up. Also, one of our Perini America technicians was there. They tinkered around like crazy and got the winder to run fairly well. Then I had to quibble with Orville about the remaining money to get him to pay up. Yes, we had sometimes clients that constantly told us that the machine does not run well so that they did not need to make the final payment. Also to their plant in Los Angeles, I had to get out with a few mechanics to get the machines to run correctly. The Perini people were doing very well. They worked very hard to get the machines to run to the satisfaction of their clients.
Manuel insisted that those winders must have steel-to-steel embossing units. That was embarrassing for Perini because they had never built such embossers. With the short delivery time had been agreed they had no time to design a new unit (although it was a known technique , especially in the USA . Europeans preferred rubber-to-steel embossers because they are cheaper and easier to work with. So I rose to the occasion and convinced the Italians to let Perini America build the embossers. It was also always my dream to build machines and not to only sell them. I went to GBE (Green Bay Engineering) and spoke with the owner Dave Fischer, who was formerly a formidable engineer at PCMC. He built four such embossers for us. We shipped these embossing units to Lucca, Italy, where they were incorporated into the winder. The first time we noticed a stupid mistake. The U.S.- made embossers were 100 mm (~4”) too wide ? Darn it!!! The Italians made ​​immediately changes to their machine to compensate for the error. Perini America delivered over the years about 12 such embossers to Perini Italy until they decided to build their own.
When I first started at Perini they used a primitive but very simple numbering system for their machines. They had simply started with the number 100 and gave the next number to each next design. As it happened, that a large winder in value of $1,000,000 , would have the number 437 and the next number 438 was then for a small cheap gadget? I persuaded the Italians to use a more sensible number system that categorized the machines they built. Thus, for example the 100 numbers for easy accessories. The 200 was for core winder, the was 300 for semi-automatic winder, and so on. Thus, the automatic winders that used to have the designation “450” became the “800”.

At the time Fabio spent most of his time building his sailboat, a passion of his. Since he was not there the other gentlemen (Ettore, Carlo, Alfredo, Giuseppe) managed the plant. My numbering system was adopted. Only eight years later when Fabio, circa 1989, again fully returned to the winder business he changed the numbering system because it just was not his?

Fabio was a very interesting guy. He was kind, courteous and calm and quiet but determined. He was a native of Garfagnana, a chain of hills near Lucca. It was said that he had just 4 years of primary school. He originally worked in his father's mechanical shop where they made repairs ​​on paper machines. Yes, the area around Lucca has a large and very old paper industry. When he was about 18, a customer came to him and told him that he had constantly in the same place the same or very similar problem. His father had already repaired it umpteen times but it keeps breaking. Fabio looked at the problem and tinkered around using some Vespa and other “off-the-shelf” parts. Amazingly the machine had never had that same problem again, and it cost very little. Thus, the entrepreneur told him "I need a core winder that is simple and works well and costs little”. Fabio built him a core winder that ran amazingly well. The businessman paid him more than he had promised. Then he told the young Fabio " Build me a winder for toilet rolls."I give you a deposit and you build this thing. When it runs well you get the remainder.”
Fabio went straight at it and built a semi-automatic winder. He had seen many such machines in various factories. Some of which have long been built in France, England, Germany or the USA. His idea was doing it even simpler. He succeeded. So he got the rest of the money. In the nearby paper mills it was rumored that the winder Fabio builds was good and cheap. Thus came more and more orders. He apparently had a dispute with his father and started his own business with a partner. After they had built about 10 machines his partner disappeared with the money. Ever since Fabio has never entered into a partnership. Even when I wanted to be his partner at Perini America he said NO. But instead I got a generous (20%) bonus of the profits.
The semi-automatic winder did not satisfy Fabio's ego. He thought the winder must be running fully Automatic. He tinkered on his idea and the thing did not want to work. Then he got help from an experienced mechanic who used to work with his father for many years. His name was Mauro Gillardi. The two worked day and night on the machine. Every time Mario had an idea it was too complicated for Fabio. One evening, tired and annoyed, told to me by Mauro many times, they tried something unusual and behold, the machine ran fully Automatic. It is the core idea of Fabio's patent. That was the secret of Fabio's success. He received a patent for it. The secret was that one of the two winding drums or rollers will slow down for a moment. Therefore the core is conveyed through the nip between the winding rollers and the winding continues automatically.
He had a lot more luck. He hired a manager named Ettore Bartoloni who came from the insurance industry and had incredibly good people skills, and he was honest and faithful to Fabio. He was also a close friend of Fabio until they parted many years later (about 1991). Ettore then organized the plant. Negotiated contracts and also helped selling machines. He was from a very prominent family in Lucca. His ancestors were aristocrats from France. His full name was Ettore Bartolini de St. Omer. He hired all the others, very capable people like Carlo Silvestri and the others I mentioned above.
The Perini rewinder is a surprisingly simple machines. Especially when compared the very complicated PCMC rewinder. However it also had some flaws. Especially with the kitchen towel machines, we had many problems. The Perini surface rewinder, as seen from the end product, is not as good as the center-shaft rewinders of PCMC, our competitors, when it came to soft-wound products. But we were so much cheaper, that we still could sell our machines to our clients. They had to accept a somewhat lower quality of the end-product for a machine that was cheaper by much, simpler and thus easy to maintain. Most did it because the efficiency of our simple machine was much higher. Thus one had 3 big advantages with the Perini machines : One was the much lower price, the higher efficiency for the second , third, and the quicker delivery.
With the then widest 3.2m (125”) machine in the world at Orchids in Flagstaff, Arizona, we had the fewest problems. The winder produced 2-ply kitchen towels and was as wide as the old paper machine they had there. In this plant, Perini America did not provide the embosser. Instead, the Italians bought one made by a German supplier (Heinzmann ?). It worked quite well except for the hydraulic system that leaked permanently, unfortunately.
Another big project was a winder which we have sold to Procter & Gamble in Green Bay, WI. It was probably in the late 1980's. We have tried for years to get into P & G. Finally we met a frank project engineer who had the courage to try it with Perini. One must understand that P & G was like an emperor 's palace. To get in was extremely difficult. They had thousands of technicians and engineers in their headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. To be a supplier of P & G is like to be a purveyor to the Emperor. They are perfectionists and so it was very difficult to convince them. But they liked our guarantee: if you do not like it, just send it back. No questions asked!
So we started with the project engineer Dave Schultz. He flew with me to Lucca and inspected Perini. This went very well because Dave liked the European culture, food, architecture, music and history. He was only the third generation of German immigrants into the United States. This project was so important that I managed it personally. Our District Sales Manager, Scott Brady was my adjutant. P & G sent 20 parent rolls of tissue paper 2.2 m (86”) diameter and 2.6 m 102”) wide to Lucca for trials. Since they were in a hurry and P & G has an infinite amount of money, the parent rolls were sent by air freight! Each of these rolls probably weighed 1.6 tons! Once we received the news that the paper was in Lucca we booked our flights and took off. Dave arrived in Lucca with 8 people. Safety experts, chemist, statisticians, electrical and mechanical engineers. They brought along their own instruments. We provided them with the conference room because they needed an air-conditioned room for the accurate measurement. The Italians were stunned... so was I.
I had to do with P & G in the 1970's working on a project with our Convex Corporation. Then I represented a French company that was called the Sierex. The owner was also an engineering genius. He built machines to make rectangular cardboard food containers. We had offered such a machine to package P & G's orange drinks. A group of P & G engineers came to Mulhouse, Alsace to discuss the machines. George Sierex flew us with his 2-engine Cessna to a customer in Northern France who had similar machines and was prepared to show them to P & G. They were favorably impressed and we started testing. But we did not succeed because we could not keep the pressure of 10 bar (150 PSI), that was required by P & G. Why: Because when these juice drinks are left in the car in hot places like Arizona, where it is often 120 ⁰ F in the shade, then the containers might explode. That was a shame because it could have become a huge order for Convex! Well, c'est la vie!
Back to P & G in Lucca: Perini had made available a whole winder. It was the latest machine Perini had on the market. It was the Alfa. That machine was especially designed for the North American Market. We had too many customers who insisted on a very high product quality, and an exact sheet count. Fabio was deeply involved in the design. But in the meantime he had many good engineers who helped him develop this machine.

Fabio and Ettore were one time en route to Brazil where Fabio Perini had a plant. On the way back they flew via Trinidad & Tobago where we met. There, sitting on the beach of our resort we studied and discussed the properties that the Alfa should have. What Fabio showed me was very nice, but the perforation was not straight. I did not accept it, because our North American market wanted to have a straight perforation, like PCMC delivers. Fabio was a bit annoyed but said that he will see what he can do. After a few days he called me and told me that he has found a way to make just that straight perforation. This was wonderful news because with such an Alfa we had a machine that would be much better than what PCMC had.
Back to the P & G trials. Day after day we made trials. The samples were selected according to strict statistical methods and kept for 24 hours in the air-conditioned conference room so that they can "normalize". Then they measured: Length of the roll. Width of the roll. Length of the perforation (accurate to tenths of a millimeter !). All depending on the position of the reel in a log. ( A log was what ​​the winder made: it took the paper from the parent roll, which was 2.5 m in diameter and was 2.65 m wide, perforated every 125 mm paper at 600 m/min and wound it up in " logs " of about 125 mm in diameter and 2.65 m in width. these " logs " then go through a circular saw and cut in 125 mm wide rolls. (For example).
The P & G people pondered whether to agree that the perforation was weak or strong enough. Well, the most important thing was the perforation. PCMC had hundreds of winders where the perforation is absolutely accurate. But the Perini surface winder, before the Alfa, was not as accurate. In the evening we dined in fine restaurants. A satisfied tummy makes for a satisfied man. Confucius (or Johann Heuchert ?). The result was that the machine was not good enough for the P & G people. We were surprised and broken. It was decided to make various modifications to the machine and then it will be checked again .
After about 9 months and expenditures of about a million dollars by Perini, the improved machine was ready to be tested again. P & G spent another fortune and shipped by air freight 15 parent rolls to Lucca. We worked and tested for long hours and many days. After 9 days of work the people gathered up their thousands of samples and flew home. After about 4 months they called me and invited me to Cincinnati to their headquarters. It was interviewed for hours. Then I got the verbal commitment for the job. They wanted to have a first machine, costing approximately U.S. $1.5 million. If it behaves well in the factory and meet their expectations, then maybe get orders for 14 more machines!
The Italians were very enthusiastic because they were "royal purveyors". They thought I had performed miracles. After 3 months, the machine was set up in Green Bay and began to run. But first we (Perini America) had for months already trained the machine operators, so they already knew what is coming their way. At this point, P & G was just great and unique. They believed intensely in the importance of good training. Most of the other companies did as good as nothing on this point of training. For this intensive training my people even wrote the instruction manuals in Green Bay. For this I went once to the engineering school of Milwaukee ( just 2 hours south of Green Bay ) . There I met the professor of Mechanical Engineering. One of her subjects was the preparation operating manuals. She saw what we got from Italy and smiled politely. She said "totally unacceptable". The English which the Italians used was gibberish. It was not accurate in some places, in others there was far too much complicated explanations. Perini Italy had found an expensive company in Rome that was specialized in writing operating instructions. Supposedly they wrote manuals for the aircraft industry?
She told me that today, it was about 1990, you must write instructions for machines that an 8 - year-old can understand. At best, she said , with many photos and sketches, similar to a comic book. I was floored. I thought Americans go to school and almost all learn reading? She replied, " Reading, yes ... but comprehension is what is lacking! With their help, we at Perini America really excelled at writing operating and training instructions.
The production began with the new Alfa at P &G. Unfortunately it came out pretty quickly that the quality of the final product was not sufficient to the requirements of P & G. The best Italian technicians were sent over to help to get the Alfa to run to the satisfaction of P & G. Perini spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on improvements. But in vain. The customer insisted on higher product quality and was not happy by what he saw. We gave them a hefty discount to finally put the matter to rest. Later I heard that the project manager has lost his job because of this failed Alfa.

Another big project was a 3.3 m wide, high-speed winder Type Alfa for Scott Paper in Marinet, Wisconsin. We had been trying for years to get into Scott Paper, then the world's largest tissue paper manufacturer. It is said that the first toilet roll was made by Scott Paper back in 1879. It was founded by the brothers E. Irvin and Clarence Scott. Since 1995 it belongs to the Kimberly Clark group. Scott Paper 's headquarters was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the east coast of the USA. Very often I have visited them there. So often because some of the engineers had become my friends.
As usual, I invited these people to come to Lucca to see one of these wonderful Perini winders. So every time we had sold a machine and it was soon ready for acceptance, I dragged them to Lucca to show them our extraordinary winders. Frequently they sent their sample jumbo rolls to Lucca. So we could show them how the Perini winder works with their own paper.
Once I picked up the Scott people from the Pisa airport and asked them how was the flight? Good, but it was a very long flight. I asked if they flew via Frankfurt, Germany? No they said. We flew via Oslo. Over Oslo? Why is that ? Yes, you know, they said, so we can get more frequent flyer miles! Yes , self-interest was more important than corporate interests, I must say!
The experiments were carried out to their satisfaction because they were not so keen on quality as their competitors, P & G. After the successful test, we went back, as usual, for some great food. But for Scott it was always at least 15 people who they sent to Lucca. So it always cost us a fortune to entertain them. During one of the numerous dinners, we went to a fish restaurant in Viareggio, about 30 km west of Lucca, on the Mediterranean (Ligurian Sea). Since we had so many people I ordered mostly for the whole group. I only asked about what they want to eat, such as meat, fish, chicken, etc. After that I ordered in Italian for everybody. It actually worked quite well. One time I had asked what wine they want to drink? On other evenings we had already white wine, another evening we had red wine, then another rose, so I asked jokingly "today we want to have green wine!” Well, it was autumn said the waiter and indeed we do have green wine. They called it "Green wine " because it was young wine from that year. We ordered the Green wine. It tasted quite well, a bit sweet. We drank it like water and only the next day did we realized it : . . ! . . Everyone had great headaches. This Green wine had not yet been fully fermented and thus it cooked in our stomachs all night. We all gulped many aspirins on the way to work.
The Super Alfa was built for Scott Paper. They installed it without our help. The customer made some modifications ​​that we were not allowed to see the. It was a " top secret" project for Scott Paper. But after about 2 years, they wailed into our ears, because the machine would not run well. We had to sign confidentiality agreements before they permitted our designated technicians and engineers to see the machine. There we discovered that Scott's engineers had substantially redesigned the drive. We often came almost to heated disputes because they wanted to show us again and again that they are better than we were as manufacturers and designers of the winder. It came to the surface that they had bought the machine probably for around 1.5 million dollars, but they had spent another 10 million $to modify it. We had sold the 3.3 m wide machine for 600 mpm production speed. They wanted it to go to 1000 mpm, without our input. If they would have succeeded, then they would have had a huge advantage over their competition. But they failed completely. In the meantime, Perini had also developed the Alfa and managed under certain circumstances to run up to 800 mpm. Here Perini had converted the winder to the original, mechanical drive using a plurality of cams and servo-drives. And lo and behold, it was to do exactly the same thing that Scott Paper has tried. We had our best technicians and engineers at hand. It was analyzed, negotiated and often we quarreled. In the end we agreed that it would be better to cooperate than to fight each other. There were of course many emotions in the game. The engineers of Scott believed that they invented the “egg of Columbus”, even if it did not work properly. The Perini engineers knew exactly how their machine worked. Eventually they made it together and it became the best and fastest winder (high efficiency) in the huge arsenal of winders that Scott had in their many plants. The purpose of this winder was fortunately relatively easy, despite the very high, heretofore never reached production speed of 1000 mpm. The product made ​​on this winder is very well known being "Scott Issue 1000". This is a kind of industrial roll of 1000 sheets. Our competition, PCMC was amazed just how this little Italian company with a name like Perini could build such a wonderful machine? They were in the business for many decades, and Perini was just an upstart.

This company, Scott Paper Co. was not very well managed (Sorry guys!). They had about 14 plants distributed throughout the American States. Some of these plants were ancient and Scott had no money to modernize them. They told me after the fourth bottle of wine that they had 3 or 4 plants that year after year went into the red. However, nothing was done because the various managers were friends with each other and each has given the other backing, without getting really worried that the company loses money. A company that continuously makes losses goes down the drain! That's what happened.
In the nineteen-nineties they were close to bankruptcy and Kimberly Clark bought them.

Atlantic Packaging of Toronto, Canada was a good customer of ours. They bought many winders from us and were quite happy with the machines. The owner was a Jew of Polish origin who always treated me very nice. He was a first class negotiator. His VP (vice president) was John Cherry of Irish descent. He was also very nice and we worked well together for many years. One time during a visit to Germany they met a German engineer called Kurt Eberle. They hired him because he was very good with machines and people and he knew the Perini winders. He was of great benefit to us because he did not complain much. Instead, he repaired the machines himself instead of crying and lamenting. He was also a shrewd guy. He gave me to understand that he wanted to have something under the table. I explained to him that it is not acceptable to us. But once I offered himand his family a paid vacation in Mexico, which he gladly accepted. He brought along his wife Helen and daughter Gabie. I in turn brought along Sonja and Mark. For two weeks we had a good time in Cozumel, and I did not need to give him any money. One time he invented a dispenser for compact, industrial paper towels, but had no money to patent it. So I patented it with him as the inventor and I the patent holder. Later I tried to sell the patent, but no one wanted it. So I let the patent expire to avoid any additional expenses.

In New Brunswick, Canada, we had another interesting client, Irving Paper. I sold them a couple of rewinders. One for kitchen towel and one for BRT (Bathroom Tissue). That was an investment of some 10 million $! The owner was the son of a multimillionaire, ho had made ​​his money with lumber, then paper, then by truck transport, and ultimately ships. The "Old" Irving lived in Bermuda where he paid little or no income tax. They were "vertically integrated” : they had their own land on which the trees stood, from trees they made paper. The paper had to be brought to market from the remote area in northeastern Canada. So they bought trucks. They needed diesel. So they bought gas stations. The paper had to be exported, so they bought ships. Then they decide to convert the paper to finished products. Despite all the money that Irving's had they were very nice and courteous people.

In the meantime the above mentioned Kurt Eberle left Atlantic Packaging and moved to a company called Merfin situated in Vancouver, BC. A German emigrant who was a dentist had made a lot of money with gold mines in Canada. He founded the Merfin Co. Merfin to make ​​a new kind of paper that needed very little ,if any, water, unlike conventional paper making processes that require vast amounts of water. I sold them a small semi-automatic winding machine to make roll out of that waterless “dry-laid paper.” I liked the idea of waterless paper and the management of the company so I bought some shares of this company. The stock initially cost only 8 cents each. Approximately 12 years later I sold the shares for about 5 bucks a piece. A very good deal!


Around 1988 Fabio came back into the winder-building company. For about 8 years he had dedicated most of his time to the building of sailing ships. First he built an 8 m long boat. He like it so much that he bought a small shipyard on the east coast of Italy (on the Adriatic). Then he began to build 10 and 12 m tong sailboats. Hey were gorgeous boats with very modern facilities and amenities. The sails were wound up into the mast, all by the push of a button. They has retractable keels, two full-fledged computer systems, a lot of mahogany trims inside. This business made huge losses because Fabio was a perfectionist and had no feel for money. Also, in Italy there is a lot of competition out there in that field. So he diverted tons of money from the very profitable winder operation to his sail boat operation.

Slowly but surely, his managers began to be dissatisfied because he put too much of the profit into the sailing ships operation. The manager participated in the profits of the company. But milking the company reduced the profit. The disagreement broke out into the open and Fabio fired his CEO and long-time friend Ettore Bartoloni. When the other managers heard of the firing, they went to Fabio and told him “if you fire Ettore than we all go”! Fabio regarded this as blackmail and stood fast. So Giuseppe Mazzotti, Carl Silvestri and Alberto Puccinelli all resigned. Fabio was concerned that they would start a company in competition with his own. For the non-compete agreement Fabio handed them their subsidiary "Fosber" Company. Fosber is a company that made corrugated cardboard converting machines, which they had bought a few years earlier. But it was still making losses and thus Fabio thought it would not be a big loss to get rid of it and at the same time keep those 4 Musketeers from competing with him. My Perini America had already invested a lot of money for a few years in the distribution of Fosber in America. So it happened that I had to accept the loss because they took over Fosber America, which I had founded in Green Bay and ran it as a separate division. They also stole Jeff Paling from Perini America, one of my best salesmen.
Fabio then hired various managers to replace the guys that had left him. The one with whom I had to do was Erik Espelund, a Norwegian who used to be the General Manager of Ford Norway. Erik was very nice but had no idea of ​​the tissue paper business. So it turned out that in 1992, I dismissed a secretary because she made too many typing mistakes. Erik called me and told me reproachfully that I have to ask him first before I fire someone at Perini America! I told him that does not come into question. I am the Manager here already for 17 years and I decide what to do regardless. He spoke with Fabio and visited us in Green Bay. I did not yield. That was simply unacceptable for me, no matter what! Then I went to Lucca to directly talk to the Fabio. He invited me to dinner at his huge apartment in Viareggio. After a good dinner, which was served by his maid, we had a few grappa to aid digestion. Thereafter, Fabio began to explain that he is the boss, and I have to do what he says, bast! After much back and forth, I told him that I am not prepared to work for him under these circumstances. I had tears in my eyes because I actually liked Fabio, and more importantly, the work I'm doing for him for so many years, where Perini America was profitable every year except for one single one! When I started Perini America in 1977 Fabio Perini in Italy was selling about $6 million p.a. Now in 1992 gross sales were near $60 million p.a., and a great chunk of these sales came from my little Perini America!
We met again the next day, but he had not changed his opinion. He wanted to break me!? I stood firm and gave him my resignation. He then sent Erik Espelund to Green Bay to negotiate a non-compete agreement with me. We haggled back and forth until we found a solution that I thought out with my lawyer and tax consultant. I got $80,000 per annum for 4 years. But I could not compete within the field in which Fabio Perini was during that time.
So I gained my independence and promptly founded in early 1994, together with Sonja our second company, which we named AapexX Corporation. Here I took over the representation of different companies that made converting equipment, but not those that would be in competition with Perini. I went to Italy and I was able to secure the representation of Omet, of Lecco, Italy an engineering firm that made label printing presses. They also made napkin folders but these were clearly excluded from the sales agreement. The contract I negotiated withe owner and CEO Angelo Bartesaghi, his son-in-law h tMarco Calcagni, and their lawyer and accountant. Both, Angelo and
Marco were rascalls and I had to be very careful. It turned out later that the two said to themselves, let him represent us. It costs us nothing, and he will not sell anything! In fact, it cost them nothing, because I was working only on commission, which was 10% and I covered all my own expenses.
All travel and Advertising costs were borne by our company that AapexX. Only after 4 long, dry years I have finally managed to sell 5 napkin folders, each $1.5 million in value! A young sales engineer from Omet was very helpful to me. It took about a year until we landed the order. During this time we visited P & G in Cincinnati, Ohio, probably 5 or 6 times. Their tissue paper was sent to Omet in Lecco (on Lake Como) to test the machinery. They have already spent lots of money to make sure that they buy the right equipment. Again, P & G was very meticulous. It had all to come out near perfect. They are just the Rolls Royce in the industry and want to make sure that nothing goes wrong.
The stingy Angelo Bartesaghi was upset that I'll get so much commission!? He said all upset and serious "you're making more money than I”!!! Of course it was to be remembered that I had for years borne all my own expenses. It went so far that we were threatening each other with lawsuits. A lawyer from Milano told me that I will not get very far, because the judiciary in Italy is extremely slow and the judges are pro-Italian. Since I as an American I had little chances to win. So we negotiated, and Angelo was convinced that it is better to find an agreement than to fritter away our good time and good money with lawyers. We finally agreed us that AapexX got only 7% commission and that amount was payable over 2 years. In addition, Angelo canceled our sales contract, so he would not need to pay as much commission in the future.
I represented also other Italian companies from the area of Lucca such as MTC (Macchine Transformatione Carta) who made paper processing machines. But they also were outside of realm of Perini. Recard made tissue paper machines. But here I must say all my efforts were for naught. I did not sell anything for those two companies. I only had expenses. But the payments by Omet kept on coming in and helped us survive.
As the year 2000 rolled in our son Mark told me that he was not satisfied with his employer, Tennant. He lived at the time in the vicinity of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. So I offered him to join me in the AapexX Corporation. We had a good cash flow by the giant order from P & G and the commission payments of Omet. So Mark began to work with me. We traveled a lot together to present to him our potential customers. We sent him for a few weeks to Italy to meet our machinery manufacturer.
Once we both traveled to Mexico. We had an appointment with the head of a small paper processing company. We sat in our hotel's restaurant, and there came our customer of German origins. He had a black eye and explained that the previous night he had been attacked while leaving his company in the evening. The bandits beat him and stole his money and Rolex watch. But he was glad that they have not killed him! Long story short: He, too, has not bought anything from us!
My old acquaintance of FMC's times ago, Juan Antonio Rodriguez helped us when we visited customers in Mexico City. During one of our trips, we were in a hurry and ate in a hurry a few tamales at a fast food restaurant. My tamales tasted strange. I ate it anyway because I was hungry. That was wrong! The whole night I was sick as a dog! Diarrhea and vomiting, at the same time. But the next day I had to visit a client who was an hour's flight south of Mexico City. I felt sick. My knees were shaking. I was weak. So I spent most of the time not in the seat of the aircraft, but in its toilet. Arriving at the customer's plant he picked me up at the airport. He grinned and said, "Aha, Montezuma's revenge has caught you !?" Normally, the threat is for Americans, not Germans, he said! He felt sorry for me and he was very accommodating. Here, he said, swallow this pill and within an hour you will feel much better. Take the pill, it is a copy of a German tropical medicine. It is designed by the “Tropen-Institut of Hamburg, Germany and is very potent, he said. Reluctantly I swallowed the pill. In fact, I quickly felt a little more comfortable and we could negotiate. He gave me a second pill and advised me not to take it, but to keep it in case I felt bad a day later. It is too strong, he explained, to take it often. Unfortunately, he bought none of our machines!
Since I had the support of Mark I picked up another Italian company to represent. This was the ITALFLEX from a small town north of Milano, Italy. This small company built a very clever flexographic printing press which we fairly quickly sold a few. Within one year, more or less, we sold 4 of these machines for a total of about 4 million dollars! One of them was a very large printing machine with many extras. One of the machines has been delivered to New Mexico. Mark and I drove thousands of miles there in order to help with the installation and start-up of the machine. The customer was an Americanized Japanese who was terribly was loud and offensive. It was not long before he and I had an argument. To show his displeasure he was shouting and cursing.. His employees were afraid of him because quite often he slapped them. At the end the machine was not running very good and he did not pay the last installment. Then he no longer wanted to deal with me because I was too stubborn. Well, I was NT prepared to take any of his shit! So he spoke only with the Italians and an intermediate agents they had in Florida. That was not a good omen. So it ended up that we did not get paid our commissions from the ITALFLEX. That was a big mishap because spending had already been made and there was no income on our books. So here we were, had a big pile of expenditures fees and no income!
That was the time of "nine-eleven", the Ninth November 2001 where the Muslim extremists have flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York and into the Pentagon and about 3,000 people were killed!

In December1st 1991 I received a call from Michael Koval the vice president at PCMC (our old competitors). (12 years earlier I had hired him as a salesman at Perini America!). He asked me if I could make him a big favor? His manager of PCMC-Germany had died suddenly and he had trouble finding a replacement !? He said that the guys who wanted the position in Ettlingen near Karlsruhe always like know first of all what kind of car they would get? Besides this, their salary claims were outrageous. Wuldn't I go for a few years there and mange the place? I asked Sonja and we decided immediately to accept the offer. I got the same salary as the late manager had, an Audi A4 and 4 weeks vacation p.a., plus a furlough flight per year! They also paid a flat fee covering the moving back to the U.S.
At the same time he offered Mark a job with their subsidiary in Green Bay that made the embossing rolls for their winders. So we had fortunately a solution to our no-income dilemma!
I planned beginning of January 2012 to fly to Germany to the post of director at PCMC Germany. So Sonja and I decided to first make a little vacation for the year-end and so we flew to Las Vegas. There I got a call from Perini Italy that a German customer is very interested in buying a winder from PCMC. I quickly changed my travel plans and flew directly from Las Vegas to Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Sonja then flew back alone to Hot Springs, AR. In Frankfurt Erik Hugh (PCMC-U.K. Salesman) picked me up from the airport and we drove to the customer. There we had a good meeting with the veteran Erik who knew the PCMC Winder very well, and I translated. After all, he was one of the young salesman from PCMC England, a subsidiary of PCMC-USA for many years. They even built machinery in Plymouth, England! Erik was a very nice Englishman who knew the machines very well. I learned a lot from him, since I knew little of the PCMC-winders, since I was a Perini-man! Unfortunately, later it turned out that the customer has bought a Perini!

For the first few months I was alone in Germany because Sonja joined me a little later. I lived in a hotel near the old town of Ettlingen. To work, it was only 10 minutes since Ettlingen is not large. Sonja came over soon and we started to look for an apartment. We looked at a in the old town. As we went there the sly real estate agent had made more appointments for the same apartment for the same time. Apparently this behavior is quite common in Germany because there was an acute housing shortage and the brokers believed to be kings. We all stood on the doorstep and the broker was not there !? He arrived about 40 minutes late and did not even apologize! The apartment was newly renovated. It had a Tudor-style outside, which was probably 500 years old. The tenant let us in and showed us the apartment. We asked whether we could buy the kitchen? The tenant fell almost in hysteria, what? You want to have my kitchen? Never in my life! I'll take it with me! Yes, it is very common in Germany that one rents an apartment without a kitchen, and a one installs his own. So that did not work. We visited a few homes and found one in a suburb of Bad Herrenalb, about 20 minutes from Ettlingen at the edge of the Black Forest. The apartment had about 90 square meters, all on one floor, had 2 bedrooms and had a veranda. Yes, it had a kitchen! It was also partly Furnished. Another advantage to the apartment had been a 2-car garage, Actually one garage, but it had a hoist that would lift one car up and one could park a second one underneath it. Quite clever because it did not waste any space.
This exception to the rule came about because the tenant went to work for 2 years on the Baltic Sea and wanted to come back again. Well, that took care of us very well since we wanted to be there only for 2 years.
But it turned out that the tenant was not the owner of the apartment and as a tenant she could not sublet without the OK from the owner. Since she had a bad relationship with the owner and she also owed him many months rent, she wanted to make the sublease unofficial. Later on we found out that the lease we made with her was invalid and she had to give us back the 2-month rent deposit. But she did not. They probably had the money squandered long ago? We went to a legal counsel and said that we did nothing wrong. We then developed a formula where we deducted the rent from the tenant's security deposit. This deal satisfied the owner and ourselves.

I immediately wanted to have a connection to the Internet. Yes ... this does not go fast in Germany. You have to make a request first. Then they examined if you're not a criminal, and if you have money. The only company that made it much faster and easier, and was prepared to accept my credit card was AOL. This went speedy and we had a connection to the Internet.
Before Sonja 'came over I bought her a small car, an orange Ford Cabriolet built in 1995. It was a very nice vehicle with many kilometers. But she ran very well and gave us no trouble during the 2 years that we went owned it.

Now back to my work:
The first thing I did at PCMC-Germany was to redeem my promise: I sold the Mercedes that the former, deceased CEO had bought a year ago, although the company's finances reveled in the deep red.
The company had about 12 employees. Of these, 2 technicians for the service. The main business was Spare parts for PCMC winders, folding machines, printers, etc. My secretary, called Marina Emmert, a was extremely good. She was for many years with PCMC Germany and therefore she could give me a lot of background information about the company and the workforce.
The previous manager was a little lazy. He tried to manage his work out of the office. Apparently he has rarely visited customers. He was heavyset and thus did not like to travel. There were different problem that had not been solved for years. So I dove into the business and tried to solve the problems through personal customer visits. That was tedious but slowly decreased the number of dissatisfied customers. I also visited many customers to sell them some machinery. We succeeded to sell a PCMC wet-wipe machine in the first year of my being there.
An employee, about 58 years old proved to be an obstructionist. He acted as an IT man. He often came to work late. Supposedly because the train was delayed. He also had a cheeky snout and provoked me. He wanted to be fired so that he could go into early retirement. I went to Wiesbaden to the PCMC lawyer and he advised me. One has to be very careful, he said, as the courts are mostly siding with labor. I listed every impudence and belated arrival in order to have evidence that he cheats so that he will be discharged. After many back and forths, we succeeded after 9 months to make a deal where he walked away, got certain payments and I had no more head aches with him.

Many of the staff were not punctual. So one time we had a meeting and I asked why so many people were not punctual? I also asked if Germany has changed so that punctuality is no longer important? The team sat there with red faces and did not know quite what to say. I told them the true story of Vincent Lombardi, the world-famous coach of the football team of the Green Bay Packers: He said that if you can not be on time, then be early! Also, he said that you should always be there to meet 15 minutes before the appointed time. Then, when you arrive only 10 minutes before the time ... then you're 5 minutes late! They stared at me with incomprehension. I offered to give them their salaries also not punctual to see how they respond to it? No one wanted to have this. After this meeting, they have all become much more punctual.
Another smart alack was the younger (about 32 old) technicians. He was very good because he knew both: electronics and mechanistically. But he was a little conceited and had recurring problems with his colleagues. One of his tactics was his resignation submitted before the salary negotiations began. He has many times used this tactic with the former manager to put pressure on him and thus to get a better raise. When he submitted his resignation to me, I wrote to him that I, unfortunately, and reluctantly do accept his resignation. He was blown away. He did not think I would do it. He came to my office surprised and stammered around, that he did not mean just as the termination letter put it. I told him that he can negotiate at any time with me, but in a fair and sincere manner. He took back his resignation and we continued to work patiently. A year later he handed in his resignation. But this time the company was not doing too well and we really did not need his services. So I accepted the dismissal and he left. So I did not have to fire him, which is no easy task in Germany. In the meantime, I had made an agreement with PCMC England that will help us if we needed a technician. There were also plenty of companies in the area where we could outsource our service needs.
The older engineers (about 55) was a very nice, capable and experienced man who gave me no problems. He worked hard. He traveled a lot and never complained. One day a customer calls us and tells us that the engineers had not shown up, as agreed. His wife also did not know where he was. We had a key to his apartment. So the my secretary Frau Emmert went there and found the apartment cleaned up and no one was there. The company car was parked and clean. He disappeared !? We reported his disappearance to the police. For many months they did not find him. Rumors swirled around that he allegedly was a gambler who had many debts. He had fears about the future because he was afraid that PCMC Germany goes bankrupt and could he could not find a job at his age. He supposedly had had 8 credit cards and were maxed out. Only after about 8 months, the police reported that a man who looked like him was found dead in a motel in Miami, Florida. Apparently he had committed suicide. Sadly, it was our technician! His wife had huge problems with the debts which her husband had made. Because they both had signed the credit card agreements, she was also responsible for the repayment. The poor women had to work day and night to to be able to repay the debt!

In mid-2003 I had only another 6 months to the end of my 2-year contract. So I started as agreed to seek a successor for me. Among the many candidates I finally found a guy named Wolfgang Dörr who was familiar with large-scale fmachinery. He was about 48 years old and had once his own company with which he represented different machine manufacturers. I hired him after 3 interviews went well. In late summer of 2003 we hired together a salesman to help Wolfgang when I was gone. We also found a nice man who made a good impression. So the small company was ready to stand on its own feet.

Wolfgang and I traveled to Slovenia different times where we had found a customer who wanted to buy a large toilet roll manufacturing plant. The guys in Slovenia were very nice. Most also spoke German because Slovenia for many centuries has been Austrian. The plant was a dream job of about 4.5 million Euros. To give us the order the CEO wanted to have some money under the table. It did not go along and let PCMC handle this affair. I was not ready to put my hands in the fire for this purpose, but our good Italians found a way to land the order in an inventive way.
In December 2003, I then took my remaining vacation, said goodbye to PCMC Italia and Germany and returned to the United States. We flew via Green Bay, Wisconsin because Mark lived there. We spent Christmas in a merry round with Mark and family.
It should be mentioned that when I signed the contract at PCMC-USA, the US dollar was worth approximately 1.30 euros. When we returned, 2 years later, the exchange value just the reverse. The euro was then worth $1.30. And I was paid for the 2 years in Euros. So I had a huge advantage by the big change of the exchange rate. You just have to be at the right place at the right time!
We had not rented out our house in Hot Springs during these 2 years where we in Germany. We could not believe to find a tenant who would treat it like his own. In addition, we would have to pay tax on the rental income, which would not have left much over. Friends looked after our house in our absence and all worked out well.
In July 2003, we celebrated my 65th Birthday in a big way in the Lochmühle in Eigeltingen, Germany. We had invited my family and some friends. It was a great party, of which I made a video on DVD. We were about 80 people. We had a lot of fun at the tractor races, cow milking, crossbow shooting, motor kart races and also 3 zip lines. Then in the evening we had a lovely dinner in a happy round. From this celebration, I also made a video to DVD.
On 01.01.2004, with 65.5 years under my belt, I retired. I had applied for my social security already in Germany and so I applied for it in America. I then began to play more golf and I resolved to put my memoirs on paper. Of course, I wrote it bit by bit, not being in a hurry. First I wrote the German version and then the English one. The latter because my descendants very likely will not know German but they surely will know English.
Another project of mine is to write my family tree. For that I have purchased a software called "Family Tree Maker". I then made a lot of research to record my ancestors electronically.

In November 2003 I went once with the new salesman to a customer near Leipzig . On the long drive, I told him how our business works. Through my inattention I was traveling too fast and was caught twice by radar. I had not noticed. He did not either. A few weeks later I found the mail with 2 speeding tickets. One was for speeding (+16 kph) through a construction site, the direction of Leipzig (going). The other list was for speeding (+22 kph) towards Karlsruhe (returning). The first cost me about € 90,00. The second cost me about € 128,00, plus suspension of my driving license for 30 days, within 4 months. So we worked with my clever secretary, Frau Emmert who worked out a plan: In December 2003, on the way to Frankfurt for my flight home, I take a stamped envelope addressed to the Traffic Information Center, with my German driving license enclosed. The return Address was PCMC Germany in Ettlingen. Then as planned, in March 2004, we return to Europe, we will pick my driver's license in Ettlingen again. In America I had my American driver's license!
We had planned already in 2003 to come back to Germany in spring 2004, to travel to the Canary Islands. We parked Sonja's Ford under a large tarp on the grounds of PCMC Germany and picked it up and my driver's license in early 2004 after we had made a 3-week holiday in the Canaries. So we flew from Little Rock, AR to Frankfurt and straight on to Las Palmas. Malinee, a friend of my sister Mary had booked trips to the Canary Islands for us. I have made a video of the trip on DVD.

When we came back in April from the Canaries Wolfgang Doerr picked us up at the Frankfurt airport and took us to Ettlingen. They had Sonja's Escort Cabriolet prepared, cleaned and already for us, thanks to the good organization of Frau Emmert. We then drove to the Ford Escort to Rotterdam where we took the ferry to Edinburgh, Scotland. There we drove, more or less along the coast, counterclockwise through Scotland, Wales and then ultimately England. There we took about 4 weeks later via Dover court the ferry to Rotterdam. I made from this journey a video to DVD.
The journey continued to the North of Germany where we visited Sonja's niece Sabine and her husband Peter Drollery in Nielsen, SH. There we sold Sonja's beautiful cabriolet to the local Ford dealership. After a few days in Niebüll and Westerland, Sylt, they brought us to Hamburg from where we returned home.

Back in or beloved Hot Springs Village we keep on enjoying our lives. Occasionally we play golf. The Hot Springs Village where we live since 1994 has 9 top class golf courses with each 18 holes, plus a private golf course called Diamante where Sonja and I have a lifetime membership. In addition, the Village has 11 lakes, 38 km of hiking trails, 16 tennis courts, a 5-star Restaurant, an indoor Olympic and 2 outdoor swimming pools, a sauna, and also has a modern civic center with a theater for 600 people.
Little Rock, our main airport is about 55 minutes away. Hot Springs also has an airport but is not used much. Dallas, Texas is approximately 5 hours' drive to the west and Memphis, Tennessee is about 3 hours drive to the east.
We are often asked how we came to settle in Hot Springs, AR? It began with the fact that Mark, in the spring of 1993, had been accepted by a university in Tampa, Florida. But he would much rather go to the famous Thunderbird College in Phoenix, Arizona to make his Master. They also had accepted him, but not until the spring of 1994. So he went first to the college in Tampa, FL. In December 1993, Mark turned 25 and Sonja and I decided to surprise Mark in Tampa for his birthday. So we drove from Green Bay to Tampa (about 2,100 Km). It had worked very well. Laura, then his girlfriend, now his wife, was also at the party. Mark told us that he is going to Thunderbird to study there. We said "oh how nice, we accompany you to Phoenix!" He had a little Ford Escort Wagon, which we had bought for him in Green Bay with his savings from his working in Germany. So we drove the approximately 3,100 Km long route to the west. We spent Christmas there in the desert and drove in January back towards home, then Green Bay, WI. We drove via Flagstaff, Arizona because this little town is high (2,130 m) and is surrounded by beautiful forests. I knew the city because I had a customer there whom I had visited a few times. From there we drove on I 40 (Interstate 40) to the east. A few kilometers outside of Flagstaff began the desert, and then the steppe, the Km after Km the road did not stop. Tumble wees crossed the road. The sun shone forcefully. We crossed Arizona, then New Mexico, and in Albuquerque, the capital, we stayed over night. Then we drove through west Texas and finally there began to appear small bushes. The further we go to the east, the higher were the bushes. Then we saw low trees. In East Texas, the trees were beginning to be "normal", i.e. known sizes and heights Finally, after about 2,000 km we reached Fort Smith, Arkansas, on the border with Texas. It was all very green, everywhere we saw healthy, green bushes, firs, oaks, etc. it looked almost the same as in the Black Forest! On the way we of course had the radio on. They told us of massive winter storms in the north, where we had to go back through at get to Green Bay, our home. We decided that we need to have a rest before we handle those winter storms. I remembered to have read in a book about Spas that there was a small town in Arkansas called Hot Springs. We decided to go there and enjoy that oasis. We took the scenic route 7 which is a gorgeous drive with many curves. We wanted to drive into the Hot Springs Village, thinking that it was “Hot Springs”. No they told us. This is a gated community and you must have a permit or you must know somebody to get access. Hot Springs was another 18 miles down the road. We drove there and stayed in that beautiful, old Arlington Hotel built around 1912. Sonja went to a hair dresser who told her to contact a Realtor who would then show us the Hot Springs Village. So we did and Jane Hollingsworth met us at the gate. She drove us around. Gave us a few ideas about home prices, which varied very much if you wanted to be in the woods of which there were plenty, or on a golf course, or up high in the hills with formidable views or on one of the many lakes. We found that the homes were reasonably priced. We were very positively impressed by what we saw. The weather was beautiful with temperatures around 60 F, and that in January!

We then continued our trip towards the freezing north. Halfway up around Campaign, IL we ran into two snow blizzards they pushed numerous cars into the ditch. The temperature had fallen to 10 ºF. Sonja and I looked at each other and asked ourselves “What in the world are we doing here”? I had just resigned from Perini America. We had just started our new company AapexX Corporation. We are not bogged down in Green Bay for anything, outside of our friends of many years. Spontaneously we decided to move to the Hot Springs Village, the paradise we just left. As soon as we were at home I called Jane the Realtor and told her to make a list of all houses that are on sale and on a lake, since we were planing to come back by March of that year 1993. Indeed, we drove there in March and started working the list that Jane had prepared.. Already on paper we eliminated some houses where the description did not sound good. Then we started to drive around the village looking a some houses and eliminated some more because either the location was not to our liking or their maintenance was not up to par. After the second day we had about 4 houses left that came into closer scrutiny. A couple of house we liked were on the largest two of the seven lakes, IE Lake Balboa and Lake Coronado. I had my camcorder with me and we studied the videos of the houses we inspected in the evening. Finally we visited a house on Lake Coronado for the second time. As I was filming the neighborhood from its deck. I see a little “Sale” sign on a tree of the neighbor's house. That house was not on Jane's list? But I could see the 300 foot long drive way, a beautiful, large yard and apparently situated directly on the water's edge. That place reminded me of what Fabio once told me in conversation about his house. He had said “God does not make more land and ht house we can always build or change”.Jane told me a bit apologetic “ you would not like that house”. Why I asked? Well, she said, it has two floors (walk-out basement) and the layout inside is quite screwed up. We told her “let it be our decision. We like to see that house, please.” The house was being rented out, because the owner lives in St. Louis, we found out. The renters were very nice and let us look at the house on 15 Coronado Trace. There were a few things that were screwed up, ;like a room downstairs without any windows. A wall between the living and dining room that made both rooms darker and smaller. A large fire place made of Arkansas sand stone that darkened the room. A kitchen without a single window. However, Sonja and I could immediately see where fairly simple improvements could be made without spending a fortune. So we made an offer Jane was good in telling me “your offer is too high. Try first a lower one. You can always raise your offer later”. The St. Louis owner was glad to receive an offer and after a few faxes back and forth he accepted our offer with a closing date of June 1st 1994.

We immediately hired a contractor who painted the fire place in a flat white and removed the wall between the dining and the living room. In Green Bay we sold our house within 2 weeks of listing it, although the price was not too low. What happened was that a pastor had scouted the area where we lived a few months before and he was determined to me into the Allouez neighborhood. WE hired a moving van, packed our stuff and off we went to a ride of some 1000 miles south. We had paid our dues in the 25 years we lived in Green Bay and experienced many cold Wisconsin winters. But we sill enjoyed all that nature gave us. I drove my red Ford Taurus SHO and Sonja her Subaru. It took a bit longer to sell our cottage but also it finally sold. With money from the sale of our “RooHaus” cottage and our home in Green Bay we could easily afford to buy that beautiful house on Lake Coronado.

Later we discovered another important fact: The real estate taxes in Arkansas are about a third of those in Wisconsin!

Over the years we made some more improvements to our house, such as remodeling the whole kitchen with new cabinets, adding a window and enlarging the kitchen by compressing the laundry. We added a sliding door to the breakfast room. Enlarged the deck and providing stairs down to the boat dock. Replacing the wooden railing with wrought iron ones. A large improvement was the extension of the house towards the East whereby we moved the master bedroom and created in its place a TV room. We added a guest bathroom. Downstairs we opened up a wall to let light into the large guest room. Provided a whole wall of cabinets with a “Murphy” bed that retreats into the wall. Outside we removed all pine trees (they are a “pine” in the neck!). We added a large turn-around in front of the garage. We replaced some of the cracked concrete driveway. In the garden we replaced the wooden flower and bush retainers with Arkansas sand stone so that they do not rot anymore. Also the whole lawn revived a retaining wall out of sand stone. We added sand stone steps down to the boat dock and lake.

Ubi Bene Ubi Casa

( Home is where Life is Good )

Chapter VIII

                                                              Life in retiremen

It is the July 12, 2013 and I 'm pretty much done with my autobiography. On Monday the 15th of July (in 3 days ) we travel to Germany because on the 27. July. 2013, my 75th birthday, there will once again a Hansifest to celebrate at the Lochmühle in Eigeltingen. The list of confirmed guests has risen to 55, less than the previous Hansifests because so many can not participate because of other interests and for health reasons.

In this chapter, I would like to utter general ideas I hold and finish my story for now. Since we are retired (since 1.1.2004), it seems to me that we worriemore than ever about the future. Not our future, because we are "over the hill". No, the future of the world in general. We also are more involved in politics than ever before. Is that because we have more time or interest in old age?

On 18 June 2008, we have become American citizens! We took a long time to finally got nationalized. We lived with our Green Cards since 1969 and now was the time to become Americans! One of the excuses we had was that we did not want to lose the German nationality, and thus the German Social Security payments. So we wandered around for about 39 years as Germans with a green card. But around 2006 the Germans changed their rules and we could get another citizenship and still keep our German one. The German passport faves us advantages when traveling because many countries require no visa for Germans, but Americans had to pay high visa fees, approximately $150 per visa. Our last trip to South America cost us nothing for visas. But our American fellow travelers had to pay for each country, and there were four (4!)! So we saved $ 600 for the visas on this single trip!.

In the evening we often sit in our comfortable lounge chairs and watch the news on TV while we snack something small. Quite often we have a glass of wine. I take a Merlot and Sonja drinks a Gewurztraminer. Mostly we look first the news of Deutsche Welle, which I had recorded earlier in the day. Then we watch The NewsHour on PBS, the only National TV in the USA!
However, we do not always stare at the TV! We also read a lot. The magazine "The Week" is very good because the reports are kept relatively short and cover all the topics. The best part is that they quote many newspapers and magazines some of which are of the leftists and of the rights political spectrum, and from time to time some of the neutral center. Thus one gets various opinions and trends of the day, and a better picture. Currently, we also read the magazine "The Economist ". An excellent magazine!
Sometimes we think that we look at too many news. So much is going wrong in the world that one can become very worried and frustrated. Presently politics in the U.S. is terribly divided. Our federal government can do nothing more. Full gridlock exists on all corners. One could lose heart. The Republicans want to go right and the Democrats want to go left. Thus, it 's not going anywhere! The country needs huge reforms, and nothing is being done. Our government has become a noisy Kindergarten! Obama has been re-elected, but the Republicans have the majority in the House of Representatives and the Democrats have a majority in the Senate. What one does is canceled by the other. Prior to the re-election, the Republicans had made ​​it their sacred goal not to let the Obama be re-elected. They have not reached their goal and are terribly unnerved. The Republicans want to lower the debt with cuts in the social network. The Senate, where the Democrats have a majority, does not allow them to do. The Republicans insist that taxes will not be increased, not even for high earners. The Democrats do not want to shorten the social network, even if it has become so big that it leads the country into the abyss.
The school system is far behind other countries, and thus the U.S. Loses its competitiveness. The immigration laws are outdated and so many immigrants are treated badly, especially the "illegals". It is estimated that there are about 11 million illegals! The infrastructure such as roads, sanitary facilities , bridges, schools, etc. are in a sad state ... and there is nothing or little done.
About a month ago, we experienced a horrible murder scene in a children class in New Jersey, where where 26 people, including 20 young children, have been shot by a deranged young man. He used a semi-automatic assault rifle and shot in 4 minutes more than 150 bullets. He also shot himself. Now it is being debated what to do. Again, it is so that Republicans and some Democrats, are against any ban on firearms. Again, it looks as if nothing or very little will be done. Yes , there will be no better control of gun ownership and no beret background-checks! No better checks for the sanity of the gun owner. No, nothing will be done. More people will be killed.
Politicians are bought by the industry. FOR EXAMPLE: The pharmaceutical industry spends millions of dollars to convince the politicians to make no laws that would reduce their profits. The same happens with the arms industry, the energy industry, insurance industry, etc. How can one make rational laws when they are put under pressure by the industry leaders ? The industry says, make good laws for us to get money to be re-elected. Are you making bad laws for us, then you get no money and we make you broke, which is called character assassination! Most politicians are professional politicians. This means they can not function outside of politics. Thus, they are very dependent on being re-elected. If not they are out of a job! So they prostitute themselves to remain in the job. They only care about their career. They do not give a tutelary for the country!

Sometimes we go to the “city” (Hot Springs), which is about 25 km away. There we have a small mall. There are also various other shops, such as office supplies store, hardware, clothing, car dealers, etc. . To Hot Springs, we also bring our cars for oil changes or repairs. At Honda I bought my 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid in 2007. At Tim Parker, bought Sonja's car, a 2013 Chrysler Town & Country Mini Van.
Sometimes we drive the 50 miles to Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas. There we find several malls and many more shops.
Quite often we invite friends over for dinner. Sonja is a very good cook. I am a good cocktail maker, though most my life I prefer to drink wine or beer. Brandy is not drunk much because most seniors are take medicine that does not go well with alcohol. Of course we also occasionally play golf. Our Village has 9 golf courses of high quality. But it has not become a passion with Sonja and I. As we live right on the lake Coronado, we also have a 21 feet long boat with a 90 hp outboard. So that we can comfortably ship around on the lake, or if Mark with family is here we can also water ski! This year 2013 Sonja and I went boating on our Lake Coronado. Suddenly the engine started smoking and would not run. We used the electric trawling motor to get home. This electric drive we used for fishing if you want to slowly and quietly glide across the water. This time, it helped us to come back to our dock. We picked up our trailer and loaded the boat on it. The boat slip is right in front of our house on the other side of the lake. We took the boat to Ken's Marine, to get the boat repaired. He told us that the engine had caught fire and all the electrical cables are burned. The repair costs were estimated at $3,500. He recommended to call the boat insurance, which usually covers such incidents. In fact, the damage was large enough that the boat with motor and trailer was a total loss! They paid us $4,000 and allowed us to keep the boat. The repair only cost me $3200 and it runs like new again! Finally a good story about an insurance policy!

Fishing we do very little , although the lake is well stocked with fish. But I have never been lucky with fishing. In Wisconsin a friend had caught lots of fish on the Fox river. He told me “come along and will show you how to catch fish. On the way there he showed me his freezer that was full of fish he had caught the weekend before. So we went fishing at 6 AM, pretty much at the same place where he had caught those numerous fish. It was good that we took a case of beer along, because after 3 hours on the cold river we had caught not one single fish. Well I told you, I said, I am a jinx when it comes to fishing.

So, we're doing ( fairly ) well and we hope it stays that way for many years to come! We travel quite a bit and have been nearly everywhere on this planet. Most if not all our travels are on videos in my DVD collection. Some videos are also on my YouTube channel under “Johann Heuchert”.

It is now June 2016 and we are still in good health and still enjoy our travels.

My father “Fritz”:

The story of Friedrich Wilhelm Heuchert (1898-1971)

Told by his son Johann (Hans) Karl Heuchert, born 26.7.1938. With the support of his brother Fritz and sisters Traudl and Mary.

Our father was born in 1898 in Sosnowiec, Bukovina, (today Ukraine)
The capital of Bukowina was in Czernowitz where my father was baptized. He died in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany in 1971. He had 9 siblings.

My father, Friedrich Wilhelm Heuchert, also known as "Fritz", served in the First World War. First he pledged allegiance to the Duke of Galicia / Bukovina, then to Franz Josef II, Emperor of Austria, and ultimately to the German Emperor Wilhelm II, King of Prussia. King Carol I of Romania died in 1916, Franzl died in 1919 and the Prussian Kaiser abdicated in 1918.

Our Fritz volunteered in 1914, then not quite 16-year-old, to the Austrian army without permission of his father, the Imperial postal worker Johann Heuchert (1860-1938). He rushed to the Military Office and wanted to bring his run-away son back home. However, the Superintendent had him confirm his signature. It was found that the signature was good.  It was copied by our Fritz exactly and his father had to go home angrily and empty-handed. Well, the military needed indeed cannon fodder! Fritz was trained and came to a machine gun squadron, because he was so nimble-fingered. He could disasseble and reassemble the machine gun blindfolded faster than any other one.

At the beginning of World War I, on the Eastern Front, he said, the situation was sometimes very jovial. Holidays were respected by the Russians as well as the Germans and Austrians and there was no shooting. They even haggled with the Russians and have horses exchanged for good vodka. Yes, at the beginning of World War I, the guns of the artillery were pulled by horses, by the end of the war they were already motorized!

The Russians attacked again and again, but did not get through. The front went repeatedly back and forth. Losses were very high on both sides. When the news came through that the Russians had assembled a huge cavalry of Cossacks (Cossacks were greatly feared for their combat fervor). Fritz went to the cantene and drank hot tea, which he diluted with vodka. Then he went outside and took several handfuls of snow into his mouth. It hurt like crazy, he said, but he repeated this procedure a few times until he fainted from excrutiating pain. The next day he woke up in the hospital, which was far behind the front. His mouth still hurt terribly and the medic told him that he had lost all his teeth and his gums were swollen badly. Also, the hospital was further to the rear, away from the battle front. The Cossacks had the day before broken through the front with eerie losses. He later learned that from his machine gun squadron, about 180 men strong, only 2 had survived .... He was the third! He was not a hero ... but he survived!

The front went back and forth. Then finally at the end of 1917, German troops had the upper hand. They forced the Russians to accept a peace treaty of "Brest-Litovsk" where Germany had many territorial advantages. In this Finland, large parts of Poland, Lithuania, etc. became German. For the Russians, the February Revolution began with Lenin and on 8th of March the Tsar abdicated. As the eastern front turned quiet, the commander of the Eastern Front, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934) and his aide of the Quartermaster General Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff ordered the displacement of some eastern troops to the Western Front. This front was stuck for years and caused eerie high losses (on both sides). Thus, the supreme military leadership needed more cannon fodder. Millions of soldiers had already been killed on the Western Front and even more were seriously injured. Per Railway troops were transported to the West. Then our Fritz took the opportunity and deserted. Yes, He wanted to survive. Also, he like millions of other Germans and Austrians was in the meantime convinced that the war is a big nonsense and no victory was in sight.

He sneaked in a roundabout way to a distant cousin in Essen, Germany. There he hid and secretly earned a few Reichsmarks as an electro-mechanic. He could fix everything because he had participated a few years in an apprenticeship as electrician in Chernivtsi. The supply of food was extremely poor. Rationing for 2 years was in full swing. The population was suffering badly.

In 1923, French and Belgian troops marched into the Rhineland with the excuse that Germany was in default was once again with the reparations that had been agreed at Versailles. Then Fritz ran away again. This time he went to Bremen, where he knew another deserter. There he found a merchant ship that was sailing to India intending to sail through the Suez Canal. He was hired as an oiler on this small overseas steamer. His main responsibility was to oil and grease the mechanical parts and drives of the ship. He did so very carefully. The propeller shaft was the most important part because they liked the freeze up again and again when it is not lubricated enough.

One of his mates drowned in the bunk below him, because the tiny cabin flooded in a  storm. The ocean waves were apparently 10 meters high and tried to drown that little vessel. But he escaped and realized quickly that he was not a sailor being terribly seasick all the time. At the next port, Alexandria, Egypt, he jumped the boat and made his way to Cairo, where he had heard that there could be some work to be found?

It must then have been about 1923? As a German-speaker he found a job with the representative of AEG in Cairo, where he repaired elevators and generators in Egypt. In between, he had started his own business as an electrician. But the poor economic situation and possibly a gaming habit (?) ruined his business. He told me that for a few years during the Great Depression of the 30’s he survived by playing poker!

He began to visit a German "Taverne Bauer" because there was the owner, Johann Georg Bauer, our grandfather mother-side, and also two pretty daughters, Paula and Klara, the latter being our mother. He also served frequently as a bouncer when customers making too much ruckus. He liked especially 'sacking the Englishmen, because they were his enemies in the First World War. His later father-in-law, Johann Georg Bauer, did not like the British either because during the First World War they sent him to an internment camp on Malta because he was German. There it seemed that he had ruined his stomach?

The Bauer family had come to Egypt with the German consul long before the First World War.

In 1930, Fritz married Klara in Cairo and soon after my brother Fritz  was born in 1932 in Cairo. Blow by blow soon followed my sister Traudl (Gertraude Heuchert) in 1934.

Then our parents moved to Alexandria, where my father found work at the "Bonneterie", a factory that processed the good, Egyptian Maco cotton, making underwear. That company used German and Swiss-made looms. The Jewish owner and the Swiss director knew of the strong work ethic of the Germans and gave our Fritz a good job as an electrical mechanic.

In Alexandria one of my sisters, Martha was born. Unfortunately she died quite young. She was only two! After that, Mary (Marie Heuchert) was born in 1936. As the last of the Mohicans, I was born in 1938, also in Alexandria.

My father was very hardworking and also very smart. He worked his way up to technical director and had more than 300 looms, to supervise. During World War II he left a few times for Switzerland to obtain needles for the looms.
The English in Egypt repeatedly tried to detain him and to get him to a detention center, thinking that he is a German. But Fritz had the backing of the influental Jewish factory owner and the Swiss director. So he remained free.

Well, his nationality was not very clear then. By birth he would have been Austrian because the Bukovina was at that time in 1898 an Austrian colony. Ethnically he was German, as I found out in my geneology research. However, Bukowina became Rumanian until 1940 when the Russian anected part of Bukovina and made it part of Ukraine. Only upon immigarting to Germany in 1952 he, and we, became officially Germans.

We 4 children visited the German Catholic School of Borromäerinnen in Alexandria. We were taught, right from the first class, not only German, but also Arabic, English and French, in addition to all the other subjects such as arithmetic, religion, geography, etc. My brother Fritz then went for 4 years to the Italian “Istituto Don Bosco” where he got something similar to a technician’s diploma. He also learned Italian! I then went for 2 years to the Istituto Don Bosco and thus also learned Italian. This came in very handy because Alexandria was very cosmopolitan. Arabic was the official and the “street” language. French was the “sophisticated” langauge. English was the langauge of the British colonial power ruling Egypt. Italian was a practical language because of the numerous Italian immigrants. There were also many Greeks living in Alexandria. But with them we spoke French or Ararabic. The Greeks and the Italians often quarreld over the question if Alexandria was Greek (founded by Alexander the Great) or if it was Italian (Conquered by the Romans). This quarrel made for good conversations!

In December 1951 we emigrated to Germany. This had become necessary because Europeans in Egypt were hated as never before after Israel was founded by the UN in 1948. Egypt was the first country to to declare war to the Isarelis because Israel was established on the land that was called for centuries "Palestine". The Egyptians lost the war miserably because they had weapons from the First World War and the Israelis had received advanced weapons by the British, French and Americans. The chaos was terrible.

King Farouk and his relatives and cohorts were incredibly corrupt. They had cheated the state royally and hidden millions and millions of Dollars and Pounds in Switzerland. The English, who were the occupying power for many decades, tried to restore order. But they lost. The uprising was too big. British soldiers were decapitated and the Egyptians played football with the heads. It was horrible. The Egyptian army fired on the Egyptian Navy and the few planes that they had, which they called Air Force, was opposed to both. Then a good friend of my father was found dismembered in a jute-sack. Finally my ftaher listened to my mother, who begged him for years to leave Egypt. He thought of emigrating to Brazil, but a friend who had gone there had never answered my father’s letters. So we fled in December 1951 to Germany, where my father's siblings were.

His brothers, our uncle Hans and uncle Lolo (Karl) and his 2 sisters, aunts Erna and Frieda had all landed in Esslingen as refugees after they had gone through an odyssey through Eastern Europe. They were namely a part of the Hitler-Stalin accord that Joachim von Ribbentrop had negotiated. It stipulated the exchange of Slovaks in Czekoslowakei and Silesia with Germans from Bukovina and Galicia. The Nazis eliminated Jews in and replaced them with Bukovina-Germans. My uncle Hans and uncle Lolo took over a Jewish fabric business, together with an apartment. But the advance of the Russians later in the war made them refugees who then ended up ultimately in Esslingen am Neckar, near Stuttgart in South-West Germany.

Finally my father saw no future in Alexandria and he decided to meet our mother and her desire to emigrate to Germany. His Jewish factory owner, who also left the country, was so nice and gave unexpectedly to our father a "fidelity bonus" for the 17 years he had worked at the "Bonneterie". These were thousands of Egyptian pounds, which came in very handy for our new life in Germany.

My sister Traudl in 1951 was sent forward to scout the situation in Germany. In December 1961, we sailed with an Italian cruise ship from Alexandria to Brindisi, Italy. Our Father Fritz had procured us all beautiful, German passports, obviously fake, since we were stateless. (For a few pounds you could get anything!) The train took us through the whole of Italy, through Switzerland to Esslingen am Neckar. There we lived together with our Uncle Lolo and his wife Ditta who had 3 kids of their own (Gudrun, Rudi and Isolde). Thus we 6 lived with their 5-head family, and this whole gang in a 3 room apartment! Well we invaded the attick and other nook-and-cranies we could find.

Soon my father found a 4-room apartment on the Hohenbühl, in the suburb of Wäldenbronn, outside of Esslingen, high above the town, behind the Esslinger castle. He had, as was usual, to pay construction-costs-advance and here the  "Pension funds" my father had gotten form the Jewish factory owner came very convenient. He then sought feverishly for work. But found none. He was 54 years old, spoke German with a foreign accent, and more than three-quarters of Germany at that time was still in ruins. He looked for work outside the inner circle. He was even in Bielefeld and Bremen. My brother Fritz took a job at Bosch in Stuttgart, my sisters Traudl and Mary also found work in Esslingen. I started an apprenticeship at Delmag in Oberesslingen. Circa in 1954, our father "Fritz" went  back to Egypt, where he found a job in representing the sewing machine maker Pfaff. He stayed there for about 2 years, and then he came back to Esslingen.

Soon after, he apparently had pneumonia and the doctors diagnosed him with suspected TB. He came for a couple of years into a TBC Sanatorium in Esslingen. He had to swallow Kilos of pills, but he secretly threw them away. For he knew that he has had acute pneumonia as a young man that had probably left some scarring in the lungs. We kids had to all be examined to be sure that we did not have TB. None of us children had TBC. He came home, but had no job and lived on Social Welfare. (Thanks to the Social-Democratic Germany!) In the meantime, our brother Fritz had been sent from Bosch to the Belgian Congo, from where he very generously, sent money to our parents to keep them afloat. Mary, Traudl and I contributed depending on our circumstances. So our parents managed to get through those tough times.

Circa in 1958, our father bought a small (98 cc) motorcycle, I think it was an Adler, and drove around with it. Then he had an accident, where he was thrown off the motorcycle and he had a concussion. He refused to be picked up by the ambulance because his accident for him was indeed a trifle. What? To the hospital? Because a bit of a headache? What is this stuff? He lit a cigarette and stayed at home. In the same autumn he suffered a stroke, it was traced to his motorcycle accident. He had to be hospitalized because and this time he had no choice. After that he was partially paralyzed on the left side of the body. I visited him in the hospital, where he lay motionless in bed. But his eyes were wide open. He could not speak at the beginning. Later he told me that the doctors had been at his bed and in Latin discussed the cause of death. He was not dead, he was only out of action! He had a stubborn will to live and massaged his left arm permanently. This bought a bit of life to his arm. He used the buses to go to Esslingen. If no volunteer helped him aboard, he told the people, “Don't you see that I'm a cripple?" Help me to get into the bus! For Heavens sake! Yes, he was not shy. He managed to convince the bird seller to give him a budgerigar. Then he continued to haggled asking  "what shal I do with the bird if I have no cage?" So he was also given a bird-cage!

But it was not long before he recovered somewhat. In spring 1959 he got  a motorized 3-wheeler from an Italian immigrant who had a small motorbike shop. He got him to modify the 3-wheeler so that he could drive it with only his right hand and his right foot.
To keep busy at home, he bought a knitting machine, which he had setup in their small apartment. Of course, our mother, Klara, had to "replace" his left arm because it was paralyzed. She loved our father idolatrous and did pretty much everything he demanded, without much grumbling. The knitting needles had to be installed and set, the wool coils had to be plugged in, she did all this so he could be happy. His knitwear sold like hotcakes and he had a good job, with a small (tax-free) income.

Occasionally I took leave from the military service in Koblenz and visited my parents in Esslingen. Quite often I found my father at his knitting machine in the basement. There I helped him a little, and it was there where he told me a few stories of his youth. It was apparently pretty hard because he had many brothers who were older than him. Only the elders were allowed to secondary school (Uncle Hans & Jakob). He began an electrician’s apprenticeship, which later helped him well in Egypt, where he could assume an electrician’s job at AEG.

He also said that his father was incredibly strict and punished his children quite often quite severely. One of these penalties was having to stay in the attick for many hours, sometimes even days. Once up there, told me our father, he broke through a wall to the sausage chamber and ate his heart out. Thus, the punishment was not that bad!?!

Our mother once said "when your father took off his pants, then I was already pregnant again"! She was also so pregnant pretty much every year since she had married in circa 1932. Thus, she had to endure many abortions because they couldn’t have afforded so many children.

Our father had his second stroke circa 1970 that knocked him down vigorously. He was then bedridden and our mother, as small as she was (about 152 cm), but with a huge heart, took care of him. It was a very difficult task because our father was a tall man of about 180 cm and probably weighed around 100 kilos !? She had to wash him from front and rear, from above and from below. With a angel’s patience she nursed him for about 9 monthswhen he suffered a third, massive stroke suffered in 1971 on which he died. We 4 children then contributed some money, so that our Father could be buried in the Wäldenbronner cemetery. He was laid to rest, just past the small church, where I was confirmed in 1954. Later on my mother was also burried there alongside of my father. Then, around 1990 my parents’ grave was eliminated because the small cemetery need the space.






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