As things turned out, after our escape from the village Communist thugs, Dad fixed up Schultz's old pickup, and he, Mom, and Luther left for Oranienberg. My brother, Siegie, boarded an east bound train back toward Peenemunde and went back to his job, welding at the ship yard. He had vacation time owed to him, and he wasn't penalized when he showed up for work a day late on Tuesday.
I boarded a north bound train and went back to Sassnitz on Insel Ruegen to continue my course of work at the stone mason's school. As I rode the train that evening, the sun was on my left again. It made a glorious cloud filled sunset in the west. I made up my mind then. I would escape the first chance that came my way.
Back at the school, Things were business as usual. We were up early in the lab laying bricks. The instructors had a supply of bricks to use. They didn’t want to run out of bricks and be forced to be continually running out of brick because the mortar had hardened, so they had us use wet sand. As long as the sand was wet, it worked just like regular mortar. We could lay a course of bricks, and then, we could walk on them, and nothing would happen. We were that good. Time passed, and at the age of seventeen, a full year ahead of most of our classmates, the five of us graduated. I teamed with five other of my classmates who graduated with me and they voted, and I became the leader of their work brigade.
In the brigade, thee was me, Hans, Martin, Erwin and George. Sometimes, we called George “Romeo,” because everywhere we went, girls were on his mind. I mean a guy like him, tall, with a broad chest, large straight nose, blond hair combed straight back, was like a Teutonic god. At least I believe that’s how he thought of himself. The only redeeming thing about him was that he could lay a course of bricks with the best of us.
Hans was about five feet eight inches tall. He was the shortest of all of us in the brigade. He had a broad chest, brown lank hair, and a cigarette hung from his lips all the time. He smelled like stale cigarette smoke all the time, but he could lay brick so fast, some times as fast as I could, maybe faster when he was really into it.
Martin was as tall as I was, about six feet tall, had brown hair. large biceps, a muscular chest, and he liked to talk about cars. He could lift the front end of a Volkswagen completely off the ground. He was shy. He never said much unless you talked to him about cars. If he wasn’t talking about cars, he would stutter a little.
Erwin was something else. We never knew if he was listening to us when we talked to him. He had this unfocused look. He could be looking toward us, but we never knew if he was seeing us or hearing us. But the really great thing about him was that he was like a machine when it came to laying brick. He could lay brick all day long without stopping. He was incredible.
Then there was me. With my large biceps and muscular body I could lay brick with the best of them, maybe better than the best of them. I thought I was reasonably good looking, but I thought my charm with the girls was because I could play an accordion. But, when I asked the guys why they chose me to be work brigade leader, they said it was because I could speak Russian better than any of them, and they said I had an easy ...