Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Viva la France and the French People

It gets under my skin when people bash the French. Granted, it doesn't take much to get under my skin but most of those people have either never been to France or put on the Ugly American act when they did go. My first experience with that type came when I was transferred to the Military Police after the war ended in Europe. I wish I had a dollar for every time we were called out because some G.I. or a group of them caused trouble and the residents would say they'd rather have the Germans back because at least they were gentlemen. The worst of those cases involved Americans pounding on the doors of houses and demanding that the women and girls be sent out for their pleasure. How to win friends. . .
Wait, I was wrong. The first encounter with Americans of that sort came while I was in the infantry and was processing casualty blanket rolls on a street in Cherbourg. An elderly man (or a man who seemed elderly to an 18 year old) and his wife had been watching and did their best to overcome the language barrier and talk to me. Later four G.I.s from some rear-echelon outfit came along. One loud mouth started giving the old couple a hard time, but the Frenchman believed they were being friendly. The others with him thought it was hilarious when the lout said, "Who's the old whore with you?" and other things in the same vein. They got the scare of their lives when Nick Scala, our machine gun section sergeant, came up behind them and took in what was going on. Scala called them to attention, had them line up against a wall across the street, then made them think he was going to have the gunner of one of his nearby squads open fire. Instead he ordered them out of the area and they took off on the dead run. Probably to go back to the rock they had crawled out from under to change shorts.
Jackie and I saw more than our share of the same sort of Americans while we were in Europe. The arrogance and rudeness of some was astounding. On the other hand, it's hard to escape bumping into them here at home. When in a foreign land their natural boorish tendencies are both multiplied and magnified.
One example of the damage they have done to the reputation of Americans came not in France but in Switzerland. We always made a point of getting away from the tourists so one day on a back street at lunchtime we saw what looked like a nice little restaurant. It turned out to be just that and we had an enjoyable meal with the locals, appreciating how the staff had set up certain tables for the regulars complete with their favorite newspaper for reading while waiting to be served. While we were having coffee after eating, the owner came out from a back room and asked if he might join us. He said he was a graduate of the food service department at North Carolina University, then asked how we happened to find his off-the-beaten-path restaurant. We told him we had noticed it while walking by. He said he was glad we had come, but asked us to please not tell others about it because they wouldn't want other Americans coming in.
Too bad it's that way, but because so many of our countrymen are obnoxious we all must endure tarnished reputations.

Visit me at: www.dickstodghill.com

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