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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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Phrases I'm Sick of Hearing

Shortly before setting my lap on fire this morning I was thinking about things people say that start me grinding my teeth and wishing I could wrap my hands around the speaker's throat and begin squeezing.
One that has been around for years is "at this point in time." What's wrong with "at this point" or "at this time" rather than saying the exact same thing twice in a mere five words? This is a favorite with many people and particularly chiefs of police hoping to appear wise while holding a press conference to admit they haven't a clue as to who committed some heinous crime.
Then there is "The American Dream." How exactly does the American dream differ from the Belgian dream or the Irish dream or the German dream? The only hint provided is that it has something to do with having a roof over your head. I believe that dream is universal.
Another really irritating phrase uttered by many people has to do with "thinking outside the box." Are we to assume that on the rare occasions when people actually decide to think about something they do so by crawling inside a box? Apparently being in this box to do your thinking means all your thoughts are conventional, boring and uninspiring.
One that should result in the summary execution of the speaker is "Déjà vu all over again." It was funny when Yogi Berra said it years ago because it was typical of Yogi. In the thousands of times it has been repeated by idiots trying to be funny...well, off with their heads.
There are words, too, that really set the nerves on edge. Many can be traced to the despicable trend toward text messaging. Chief among them is "Congrats." It comes across as saying, "Whatever it was that you did isn't worth taking the time to write 'congratulations' so 'congrats.'"
There were others that had come to mind before half a dozen hot embers decided to leap out of my pipe at the same instant and start a blaze on the towel I place on my lap to keep this sort of event from burning holes in my pants. Perhaps blaze is too strong a word, but dousing the embers drove the other words and phrases from my mind at that point in time.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Why do women do this?

We were paid a visit by relatives recently, Joe and Cindy Hesson from Richmond, Indiana. This triggered one of Jackie's cleaning frenzies, of course. I appreciate clean surroundings as much as the next guy, but it seems the place is in pretty good shape all the time.
Not so, apparently. In the midst of her vacuuming and dusting and running from one place to another, Jackie took time to drop a dust rag beside my desk. "This is probably cleaner than the one you usually use," she said, and I'll admit she was right about that.
This was the first I realized a dust rag was going to be needed that particular morning so I said, "Who's coming?"
"You know perfectly well who's coming and you know how particular Joe is."
"What Joe are we talking about?"
"Joe Hesson, you know that."
"That's funny because the Joe I was thinking about also is named Joe Hesson. I can't recall the Joe Hesson I know being all that fussy."
"Well he is. So is Cindy."
So as Jackie went hurrying off to her next chore, I was jarred from my comfort zone. In the office I have a rule of thumb about dusting: When you no longer can tell the color of something, it's probably time to dust.Even though I could see my pipe racks were brown and all the other stuff looked normal, I went ahead and did my part. That's the trouble with cleaning frenzies; they're contagious. I don't suppose those five minutes away from work will keep me from winning a Pulitzer Prize, but you never can be certain about things like that.
I've seen a lot of propaganda dispensed during the past 70-plus years. Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels did a masterful job of it for Hitler and the Nazis. Tell the big lie, repeat it often enough and people will come to believe it. That was Goebbels stock in trade.
The American government and our news media marched in lockstep to blame what happened in Georgia on the Russians. They have done an excellent job of making people forget it was Georgia that started the trouble. Goebbels would be proud.
George W. Bush says he will have to "take Russia to task." He did this while on vacation in Texas. Just how he plans to do this he didn't say.
Robert Gates, secretary of defense, said there is no need for U.S. military intervention at this time. At this time?
Do Bush, Gates, John McCain and others who love to bluster somehow confuse Russia with Iraq or Afghanistan? What did they call it, shock and awe? Have they forgotten the nuclear missiles aimed at American cities? Are they foolish enough to truly believe the Russians are easily shocked or awed?
If wiser heads don't prevail and dump these people who love to posture, pose and talk like they believe a confrontation with Russia would be nothing more than another gunfight at the OK Corral, well look out. Start digging those backyard shelters that once were so popular, hold tight to your sons and husbands when it is necessary to start up the draft again, say goodbye to the way of life we have known.
Reading European newspapers makes it apparent that they are taking a more cautious approach to current events. They know from experience what war can mean. Most Americans do not. Fight them somewhere else, not here - that has gotten us by in the past. While 20 million or more were dying in World War II, we suffered about 400,000 deaths. While other countries were being destroyed, ours was not. Believing it will always remain that way could be a deadly mistake. I hope we don't make it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Frightening a little creature always disturbs me

I frightened our little hamster Sophie this morning and it has bothered me all day. She was on the top floor of her four-story cage, sitting on top of the little building that is her potty while Jackie was talking to her, something she loves. I got up from a chair and with the light behind me, Sophie saw me as a dark shadow, possibly a hawk. It's amazing how fast a hamster can move at such a time. Like a shot she was back in her nest and hidden from view.
When something like that happens it triggers a flashback to the winter of 1945-46 when I was a military policeman in a town in Northern Germany. A former German paratrooper named Muller had a small band that played for dances at the Officers Club. They played a variety of music but Muller refused to play American jazz. The officers decided to show him who was boss, make an example of him and others.
The entire contingent of MPs was gathered one night and told we were to raid a number of German houses looking for American cigarettes or candy bars.
"But the women do our laundry and that's how we pay them," the officers were loudly informed. They didn't care.
None of us had any enthusiasm for the job. My friend Frank Schwartz and I made up one team. Like the others, when we found cigarettes or candy we overlooked it. The officers were furious. While we were in the home of a man we knew, an officer swaggered in the door. Frank had just found a pack of cigarettes in a desk drawer and knew the officer would search it. He tossed the pack to me. I ripped it open, lit a cigarette and put the pack in my pocket.
The fat officer was suspicious. He ordered us to search upstairs. We opened a bedroom door and found two blonde-haired little girls staring at us from under the covers. They appeared about nine or ten but could have been a little older because all children in wartime Europe were small for their age. To them, men wearing white MP helmets meant American Gestapo. We tried to reassure them but they couldn't understand and remained terribly frightened.
Although we had found nothing, the officer said to arrest their father. It happened to a number of others that night. Later I looked through the peephole in a steel door at the jail and saw the father holding his head in his hands.
A military tribunal - that means give a man a fair trial and then hang the guilty bastard - handed each of the men 15-year prison sentences. How long they actually served, I don't know.
The American Gestapo? Perhaps we were. Was I proud of my role in the injustice? Not for a minute. To this day it bothers me, just as frightening Sophie bothers me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

83 isn't much different than 82 - at least so far

If anyone cares, I can now assure them that today doesn't feel any different than yesterday when I was a mere 82-years-old. In fact, when I'm sitting down I don't feel a whole lot different than I did when the four generations photo was snapped in the summer of 1928. I was wearing something stylish, as was my mother in her flapper outfit. The rather formidable pair standing behind were my grandmother, Margaret Lynch, and my great grandmother, Julia Burke.
While the latter two look like the end could be coming at any moment, my grandmother lived another 40 years and Julia Burke, a typical Irish matriarch who ruled with an iron fist, was around until 1947. She lived through the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War and both World Wars. My grandmother was born on the day of Custer's Last Stand. She went to work full-time in a shoe factory when she was 13. They were quite a pair, those old Irish women.
Had a phone call today from my oldest friend, now a resident of a senior complex in California. We met in 1937. Also received a great book from Peter Puhl in Germany. It's mostly photos from the time when I was stationed there in 1945 and early 1946.
Jackie decorated some cans of nuts with things clipped from catalogs - things she apparently believes fit my personality. "I didn't say it was YOUR FAULT, I said I was going to BLAME YOU." Stuff like that, and this: "I'm not stubborn. My way is just better." And "I USED TO CARE, but I take a pill for that now."
She also fixed up a card from all the little critters that have lived with us, but now are just memories. One from Sophie, our current resident hamster, too. To be honest about it, Sophie didn't seem too impressed about my birthday. She was rolling around in her plastic ball and wouldn't even come to me when I called the way she usually does. The last line on her card read, "Got any treats?" That was typical.
So despite doing everything the medics say I shouldn't and few of the things they say I should, I've made if farther than I had any right to. That's just the way it goes.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Neat to Casual to Sloppy to Dirty

That heading is the story of the way Americans dress. Until I was in my fifties, people made certain they were dressed neatly whenever they left home. Even during the Great Depression of the 1930s, few people would venture outside the house unless they were suitably attired.
Then in the 1980s someone decided we should all dress casually. Nurses should no longer wear white uniforms so it wasn't long before you couldn't be certain that members of a once highly-respected profession weren't part of the clean-up crew. Nuns were seen in skirts that barely reached their knees and the wave of casualness soon engulfed us all.
But from casual to sloppy is only one short step. Pride in appearance slowly vanished. It shouldn't surprise us that some people began to feel that if sloppy clothes were permissable, sloppy and dirty clothes should be too.
Yesterday we went to the VA clinic. Jackie wore slacks, a blouse and a jacket and felt overdressed. I wore slacks, a shirt open at the neck and a flat cap. I was overdressed, as out of place as a cat among the pigeons. These were all men and women who had served in the armed forces and were taught to be neat. That was a lesson soon forgotten.
Members of the VA staff were dressed nicely, but the same cannot be said for many of the employees of the HMO we use for Medicare. Our primary care doctor would have been arrested for vagancy during the Eisenhower adminstration.
Some people contend that looking like a slob means being comfortable. But those who dress like slobs and act like slobs will look in vain for respect from those who still feel pride in personal appearance means something.
Now that it has become OK to wear sloppy and even dirty clothing in public, where will it end? I don't know, but I sure know it should end.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An Early Autumn, a Summer Without Insects

Something's wrong. Since the first day of August the temperature has not risen out of the seventies. The days are cool, the nights crisp, so you need a blanket, sometimes two, to be comfortable. The high school and college football players are loving it. But it's not natural.
Each year we have had fewer insects until now it is approaching the zero level. Since the weather warmed up in April, Jackie has seen three houseflies. I've seen one. The moths and millers that used to gather on the balcony at night, drawn to the window next to my reading lamp, have been gone for years. We no longer really need window screens.
The bank swallows people call nighthawks always put in an appearance an hour or so before dark. Watching them fly their erratic patterns in search of insects was interesting, especially from a sixth floor balcony. But when the insects vanished several years ago, so did the nighthawks.
What happened? This is an industrial area. You have to drive miles to find a farm so pesticides can't be blamed. Industrial emmisions aren't at fault. Even though we have many factories, some large and others small, emissions are nothing compared to those of the past.
Somehow it has to be tied to global warming just as the melting of the arctic ice cap has brought the country heavy snows in the winter months. What's next? Will the songbirds disappear? Will we soon have silent springs?
Humans have managed to mess up the planet. What will the future be like for the children and grandchildren? It may be a little late to start thinking about that.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shaky Ground

News reports about the fighting between Georgia and Russia seldom mention that it was Georgia's recently-elected leader who started it. Nor do they mention the consequences of a major war involving Russia.
It seems that every so often the lesson has to be learned that taunting the Russian bear is more than merely dangerous. Napoleon learned it, Hitler learned it. I hope we don't learn it, but the United States is flying 2,000 Georgian troops home from Iraq and that will stir the pot.
We don't want to get into a conflict with Russia. Aside from the fact that they still have hundreds of nuclear weapons aimed at American cities there is the hopelessness of ground warfare when winter comes to the steppes and forests in a land of diehard patriots with a well-equipped military.
The first thing we would have to do is reinstate the draft. Millions of men would be needed. Casualties on both sides would be enormous. The Russians are more willing to endure the loss of life than Americans. The deaths and injuries suffered during five years in Iraq could sometimes be equaled in a single day just as happened on occasion during the First World War.
Months spent as an MP in Germany immediately after the end of World War II included countless hours of talking with former German soldiers, now civilian guards at an ordnance depot. No matter which of them might be talking, the tales of fighting on the Russian Front were chillingly similar. How often I heard, "We could kill a hundred and two hundred more would be right behind them."
I heard tales of spitting or urinating and hearing a loud crack as it froze before it could hit the ground. Both sides used some horse-drawn equipment capable of going where vehicles could not. German horses could withstand cold to 24 below zero, Russian horses to 60 below. Every moving part on vehicles would freeze and tanks and trucks would be frozen solid to the ground. Men would die in November and their bodies remain hidden until spring. And always there were the partisans - members of the underground - ready to kill at every opportunity. Today we would call them insurgents or terrorists.
No, we do not want the last chapter in the legacy of such concern to George W. Bush to be a war with Russia. There would be no winner, just millions of losers. Georgia is not our fight, not our cause. They started it, let them finish it.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Cain knew how to write a novel

Jackie was somewhat perturbed when I bought two more bags of pipe tobacco this morning. That makes 13 in my stash and each contains 16 ounces of natural cavendish. Now I have 208 ounces in reserve. I use about eight ounces a week.
She said, "What am I going to do with this after you're gone?"
"Where am I going?"
"Oh, just go wait outside."
When we got to the car she said, "Do you want me to drive? You're tired."
"I promise not to have more than two accidents on the way home."
"The first time you have an accident I'm taking your driver's license away."
While laughing, I couldn't help notice she wasn't smiling.
Without intending to, after arriving home we watched an old movie, Too Many Husbands, with Jean Arthur, Fred MacMurray and Melvin Douglas. I mentioned that MacMurray was in a lot of silly films but his best was deadly serious - Double Indemnity. After naming several of James M. Cain's great novels I said I liked the title of one of his short stories,
The Baby in the Icebox.
It's food for thought," I said.
"Would you care to restate that?"
H'mmm. Baby in the icebox, food for thought. Well, maybe I should.
Then I remembered that after reading several Norman Mailer novels, Tom Wolfe wrote that Mailer should read some James M. Cain and learn how to write a novel. Mailer was outraged, of course, but Tom Wolfe was right.
Cain's best known novels are The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce, and Double Indemnity, but he wrote others equally as enthralling.
Tom Wolfe wrote this as part of a lengthy introduction to a reissue of the big three: "Cain's trick here - well, it is no trick. It is a feat, one that dates back at least as far as Crime and Punishment. Namely, in book after book Cain puts you inside the skin of one utterly egocentric heel after another, losers who will stop at nothing - and makes you care about them."
The underlying theme of Cain's work was betrayal. Pace and forward movement of a story were paramount. Details of scenery and surroundings are minimal. Don't take my word for it, take Tom Wolfe's. Long after his death, Cain's work is available nearly everywhere. Missing it would be a crime.

Friday, August 08, 2008

How did people smell in the 1800s?

We were watching an old film on Turner Classic Movies the other evening and my mind began to wander because the action, if you could call it that, centered on the love affairs of rich people in 1847. The setting was France, so as all the characters were wastrels I was thinking it was time to set up the guillotine again.
Some of the scenes were in crowded ballrooms so I started wondering how people smelled in those days. This happens, too, when I'm watching a western and you see a bunch of cowboys whooping it up in a saloon.
Aware that in 1847 you couldn't stop by a drugstore and pick up a Mennen's Speed Stick I said, "I wonder how people smelled back then?"
This was not a subject of appeal to Jackie so rather than the flippant, "With their noses," that I expected she said, "Maybe they had a different diet so they didn't smell."
Not for a minute did I buy that theory. I recalled reading of how Ben Franklin was loathe to bathe so one day a woman said, "Mr. Franklin, you smell." Ben looked her up and down before replying, "No, Madame, you smell. I stink."
After a few more minutes of watching tortured romance it dawned on me that women doused themselves with perfume in those days. Unfortunately some still do.
But what about the men? Surely they didn't need to apply a manly scent in order to smell like a man. No, that's a 21st century development. If a man fails to shower for a week, women flee when he walks into a room, but if he does shower every morning all he has to do is spray himself with any number of manly scents on the market and the girls will swarm over him like crows on roadkill. I know this because of seeing TV commercials.
I have been unfortunate enough to be on elevators with manly-scented men. It may not be quite as bad as being trapped in a small box with a woman who was liberal in applying perfume, but it's close.
So while I have not come up with a positive answer to my question, it seems there is little doubt as to how rich people smelled in France in 1847 or the fragrance emitted by cowboys in the Old West. Jackie still doesn't want to talk about it or even think about it. That's just how people are today.

Monday, August 04, 2008

ANEMIA - Avoid it like the Plague

This is not a complaint because for a guy about to celebrate (?) his 83rd birthday I am doing quite well. It's a rare day when I don't work six or eight hours and that includes weekends.
But that's sitting at a computer writing or doing the things that go along with it. I'll be feeling great when I decide to get up and do something else. Anything at all, you name it - a 25-mile hike with full-field pack, carry the ball a few times for the Cleveland Browns, take over at shortstop for the Chicago Cubs.
Ah, yes. Then after twenty steps down the hall I'm reaching out for support. Can I make it to the recliner in the living room? Maybe, but it won't be easy.
My step may be sprightly as I set out to empty the trash in the chute fifteen yards down the outer hallway. On the way back I'm clutching at the wall to help me stay on my feet and wondering how our door moved so far away in such short a time.
It's called anemia. The slightest effort enables it to drain the energy from your body and leave you with all the strength of a limp dish rag.
I guess there are numerous ways to become anemic but I've never paid much attention to medical stuff. In my case I think it's from a benign tumor on the pituitary gland that has knocked every hormone there is down to base level. I take pills and get a monthly shot to build me up and the anemia just laughs at both.
So my advice is this: don't get it. Just downright refuse to allow it anywhere near you. If you find out how to do that, please let me know.
It's almost lunch time, I've been up about five hours, have gotten quite a bit accomplished and am feeling great. So tennis, anyone?
Maybe I'd better think about that a little more. If I can make it down the hall when Jackie says the food is on the table, I'll give it further consideration. In a pig's eye.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


While watching a woman being electrocuted on one of our favorite BBC programs last evening I was reminded of a story I wrote twenty or more years ago called BYPASS FOR MURDER. It reminded me, too, how dangerous any electrical appliance can be.
The story was written for a Private Eye Writers of America anthology titled JUSTICE FOR HIRE. Being somewhat honest at times, after receiving a check I returned it to Bob Randisi, founder of PWA, with a note saying I had never written a story named JUSTICE FOR HIRE. He sent it back with a rather caustic reminder that it was the name of the book, not my story.
Anyway, a man felt he wanted to dispose of his wife - something many men feel prone to do at times - so he decided to electrocute her. For him to do so I called upon my days as a radio and TV repairman in the 1950s. As a murder weapon the evil brute used an AC-DC table model radio his wife kept in the basement by her washer.
Those old tube radios were potential killers so manufacturers used a 25 cent part called a line bypass condenser (people call them capacitors now) to keep the 110 line voltage from reaching the chassis. If that condenser shorted out it had no effect at all on the quality of reception so the user was unaware that the full line voltage was now on the chassis. There were two more safeguards, h0wever: cabinets were plastic or wood and there were plastic knobs on the metal shafts used to tune in a station and control the volume.
To proceed with his dastardly plot the husband bought a cheap condenser of the proper size at a radio parts supplier and shorted it out by stabbing it a number of times with a pin. He then replaced the perfectly good line bypass condenser with the one whose effectiveness he had destroyed. Next he replaced the plastic knobs with ones of metal. Finally he punched a tiny hole in a hose by the washer so a small amount of water leaked onto the concrete basement floor.
He was miles away working at his office on wash day when his wife turned on the radio and provided the line voltage with an easy path to ground. The nasty man failed to do one thing, remove a sticker from a nearby radio repair shop.
Everyone was satisfied it was an accident except a suspicious private eye investigating for an insurance company. He took the radio to the shop, where its horrified owner found the cheap bypass condenser, a brand no respectable shop would use. Furthermore, the radio man said, no shop would ever allow an AC-DC radio to leave the premises with metal knobs. Case solved.
The moral of the story is this: beware of any appliance that plugs into an electrical outlet. Somewhere inside that line voltage is lurking. Electricity is something we use every day. It can be our best friend - or our deadliest enemy.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Day We Laughed at Patton

This morning my thoughts drifted back to another August 1 sixty-four years ago. Here is an excerpt from the book Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War:
When Patton’s 3rd Army was committed to battle on the first day of August, he somehow got the idea that the 4th Infantry Division was switched from the 1st Army to the 3rd. That would happen months later, and it was Patton who then recommended that the 12th Infantry Regiment be awarded a Presidential Unit Citation, but on August 1 we were not a part of his command.
The day began like so many other days, wander­ing here and there, backtracking, spending hours in a seemingly aimless search for pockets of Germans. Four hours of sleep for each man had done little to rejuvenate us. Until late morning the sky was gray, a perfect match for our mood.
In mid morning, G Company halted in a field and gathered around Lieutenant Davit so he could read an order from General Patton. No one gave a damn about the first, and erroneous, sentence: “You are now in the 3rd Army.” What difference did it make to us what army we were in?
The next sentence, however, got our attention: “There will be no digging-in in the 3rd Army. The 3rd Army will move too fast for that.”
Patton was a tank commander and tankers could take their foxholes with them. The infantry lived by the maxim “Dig or die.”
There was a short silence, then someone chuck­led, someone else laughed, and soon we had all join­ed in. Tired as we were, I would never have believed it possible. At that time, Bob Hope could have considered his act a success had it resulted in a few weak smiles, but, had we been in a theater, Patton would have had us rolling in the aisles. As for his order, well he knew what he could do with it.
So off we went again and soon the sun came out. I was loaded down with the big radio as we tramped along a dirt road that now and then would take us past a cluster of houses, but for the most part just wended its way through fields and orchards. I stayed at the front of the main body near Captain Moore.
It was around noon when the last man in the squad on the point raised a hand as a signal to stop. A runner double-timed back to tell the captain he was wanted up front. He started off, but in no big hurry. Without being ordered to do so, I fell in behind.
In a whisper the squad leader, John Cwiklinski, told Captain Moore that three Germans were eating lunch in a farmyard on the right. It looked like one was wearing a GI undershirt. After looking over the hedgerow, the captain agreed and sent a runner back with a message saying he wanted B.A.R. men up front. He didn’t specify how many so within two minutes all eight arrived, making nine including the one already there with the point squad.
The farmyard, like so many in Normandy, was a place of tranquil beauty. Sunlight filtering through tall trees created an irregular pattern of bright light and dark shadows, making it difficult to pick out details. The Germans were seated at a sturdy picnic table about twenty feet in front of the house. The youngest, no more than sixteen or seventeen, had removed his tunic. The sleeveless undershirt he was wearing did look much like one of our olive drab shirts. If the trio possessed weapons, and I doubted that they did, they had been left inside the house. These had to be rear echelon men unaccustomed to danger. We were no more than thirty yards away so infantrymen trained to be on the alert would have become aware of us.
The captain said he wanted three B.A.R. men to set up, then fire on his command. Again he failed to be specific so no one knew which three. All of them wanted to take part so for a moment it appeared that they were going to turn on each other. Several were snarling and growling so the captain said all nine could do the job. Captain Moore was not much of a decision maker.
One of the Germans had gone inside the house so they had to await his return. Now there were twenty or more of us peering over the hedgerow. Still the un­wary Germans did not sense our presence. When the third man came outside carrying a bottle of wine, the captain waited until he had taken several steps toward the table before issuing the command: “Fire!”
There was a terrific clatter as the nine B.A.R.s and a number of rifles fired by men who decided to join the fun shattered the noontime quiet. It was a bloody massacre. The German on his feet was hurled back against the wall of the farmhouse. Another was lifted from his seat and sent sprawling across the table. The youngest just fell forward, face down in his mess kit.
Everyone ran into the farmyard, some entering the house, others going on to the outbuildings. Af­ter failing to find more Germans we assembled at the front of the house. By then everyone had come for­ward so the captain said we could take a few minutes for lunch before going on. As there was room for only four at the table with the dead Germans, most of us sat with our backs resting against trees or the wall of the house.
One of the newer replacements, a man of eighteen or nineteen I hadn’t noticed earlier, went over to the table for a closer look at the young German. When he re­turned to the wall where I was seated he said to his squad leader, “Sarge, that isn’t a GI undershirt.”
Cwiklinski was working at opening the small can from his K-Ration box. Without looking up he said, “So what? Eat up before its time to move out.”
Soon after returning to the road we were halted again so Lieutenant Davit could read another message from Patton. This had never happened under Bradley or Hodges in the 1st Army. Someone near me mumbled, “This guy must be going to fight the war with his typewriter.”
This time the order was so ludicrous, so down­right unbelievable that even straight-laced, conser­vative Lieutenant Davit joined the laughter that was both louder and longer. The second message read: “As screaming provides aid and comfort to the enemy, there will be no screaming by the wounded in the 3rd Army.”
The man had to be mad. Imagine telling someone with his body torn apart to be quiet so as not to give the Germans comfort from his suffering. He was wrong, too, in thinking that hearing the cries of an enemy soldier was less stressful than listening to one of your own men screaming in agony. Whatever its source, a scream was a scream.