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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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trouble in any language

I have long known that saying kind words in a foreign language can be dangerous business and the point was driven home to me during the past few days. Both Peter Puhl and Abe March have let me know that my morning greeting to Jackie was all wrong. This, of course, was something I had already discovered on my own.
Peter, who lives in far off Nordenham, told me I would have been better off saying, "Guten Morgen, mein schatz." So I tried it and Jackie's response was, "I don't like the sound of that." I believe it was being called schatz that she didn't care for so I explained that I had said, "Morning, sweetheart."
Seeing that I wasn't getting far, I followed Abe's advice and said, "Guten Morgen, meine gnadige frau." That seemed safe enough because gnadige frau means gracious lady, or something like that. I probably should have remembered it is "something like that" that gets you in trouble. I definitely should have remembered that uttering a sentence containing the word frau is like waving a red flag in front of a bull to any woman who is not German.
All this led to a decision that never again would I try to compliment someone in any language other than English. But then I recalled a popular song from the days of my youth, Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen. Now according to the words sung by the Andrews Sisters and Carmen Lombardo back in the mid-1930s, Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen means that you're grand. It also means you are the fairest in the land, if you can trust those old singers.
So maybe I'll give it a try tomorrow. But can those singers really be trusted? It pays to be cautious in accepting such advice as I found out in 1945 over there in Nordenham. I was preparing to explain a situation I was in as soon as a particularly obnoxious officer arrived on the scene. A group of former German soldiers who were civilian guards where I was an MP told me to finish my statement by calling him a word ending in "head," but spoken in German rather than English. The first half of the word proved to be something nasty that began with the letter S in both languages. Then those old soldiers burst out laughing when I called the officer a "S...head."
You just never know who you can trust.


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