Things were pretty dreary after Gunther left. Since we weren't on the road running from the Russians and the SS, Siege and I bad time to locate things. We discovered that Castle Willigrad had its own little theater. We found it, and we investigated it. We returned to the cottage at lunch wearing costumes and carrying ceremonial swords. I was carrying an extra suit of clothes, and Siege had on a baron's ceremonial robes. We had barely shown our prizes to Mom when we beard a knock on the door.
One of Gunther’s friends was at the door and he said, "I saw the clothes the boys were playing with, and I wondered if I might convince you to alter one of those suits for me?"
Mom said, "Well, I don't have a sewing machine, or I might do it."
The man asked, "If I could get you a sewing machine, would you do it for me?"
Mom said she would, and the man said, "Let me borrow your boys for about five minutes. All right?"
Mom nodded her head, and Siege and I went with him to one of the abandoned trucks. He climbed up in it, and he handed out a sewing machine. Siege and I held it against the truck while he climbed out. Then we helped him carry it back to our cottage.
Mom altered a suit for the man out of the things Siege and I had found. Later in the day, several of Gunther's friends, who had worn the SS uniforms, showed up with civilian clothing and German army rations. They gave Mom the rations for altering the clothing to fit them. For the next week, Mom was busy making clothing for various people. Civilian clothing was invaluable to those wanting not to be associated with the SS or with a uniform. We wound up with a lot of army rations.
Siege and I were out prowling around the castle looking to see what we could find. We decided we would explore more of the abandoned German army trucks to see what was in them when we came upon a regular German army unit that was gathered at the castle. A Sergeant had the soldiers lined up in formation.
He was speaking very forcefully to them. He said, "I want you men to understand something. The war is not over yet, and it won't be over until the American's get here. Even so, I am still your sergeant, and you are still in the army. You will still salute me and obey me.
"If you have problems, come and cry on my shoulder. I don't want to learn that you have been down in the town talking to the locals.
"Listen to me. I'm going to take care of you better than your mama, but whatever you do; don't talk to anyone outside this castle.
"We're going to stack our weapons in a shed. You keep the serial numbers on your weapons because when the Americans get here, we're going to join up with them. We're going to go kick the Russians' butts all the way back to Russia. The high command is already talking about it, so don't forget, you're still in the army."
As he spoke, three young men dressed in SS uniforms walked through the castle gate. They saw the sergeant and walked purposefully up to him. One of them said, "You there, Sergeant. I want you to do something."
The sergeant turned to look at them. He asked disdainfully, "What the hell do you want."
The young SS officer hesitated for a second and then pushed on. He said, "My associates and I require that your company supply us with different uniforms, uniforms like yours." He pointed at the grey uniforms the soldiers were wearing.
The sergeant said, "I have news for you. You young hooligan." He turned and faced the SS officers. "You will not require this company to do anything." The soldiers behind him all brought their weapons to the ready. The sergeant held his hand up to stop the soldiers from any further action.
He said, "You're not going to get any regular army uniforms. And, you're not going to get any civilian clothes from us or from any of the ladies now living in this castle.
"If you do, and if we see you, we will shoot you dead. Do you understand?"
He didn't wait for an answer but continued, "Your kind is not welcome in Germany, anymore.
"Now, get out of here." He dismissed them with a wave of his hand.
They left hurriedly. We never saw them again.
I looked at Siegie. He raised his eyebrows at me and said, "I think I'll stay out of that man's way."
I nodded my head and said, "Me too."
We slipped on by the army group and went to a truck that was loaded with bazooka boxes. We opened a box and read the instructions. The instructions told us not to collapse the handle since it would fire the weapon. The bazooka came fully loaded. We decided to see what we could do with it. We picked up an extra round and carried the bazooka to the lake and fired it up into the air. The projectile whooshed up into the air, and then it plummeted into the water about 100 yards out. When it hit the water and exploded, a tremendous splash of water gushed into the air. Dead fish floated to the top of the lake.
Siegie said, "Wow! What a neat way to fish."
I grabbed the bazooka from him and handed him the extra projectile I had carried. I said, "Here! Wire this one into the tube." He did, and I repeated his performance. When the projectile exploded in the lake, we looked at each other and grinned.
He jumped up and down as he said, "Oh, wow! Let's go find a boat and get some of those fish. I'm tired of eating army food."
He found a boat, and we got the fish. We carried them home with us lined up on a stringer we had found in the boat.
We gave the fish to Mom. She said, "This is wonderful. How did you get so many?"
Siegie shrugged and looked down at his feet. Be mumbled, "We found a...."
I interrupted him and said, "We found a boat, Mom. It was easy." I started pushing Siegie out of the door. I said, "We've got something else we need to do."
Once we were outside, Siegie asked, "What's the big deal? We don't have anything else to do."
"Oh yeah? Well, we'd better get away from here, or Mm will make us clean those fish."
Siegie, said, “Yuck.”
Our explorations that afternoon led us to a balloon factory. The factory had made weather balloons. Some were small, and some were very large. Siegie took some of the balloons he found and made a large swing out of them. I found one that wasn't too big. I decided I wanted to blow it up, just to see if I could. Blowing it up took about two hours. The opening that I blew through was as big as my head. I squeezed it down to where it fit over my mouth and part of my nose. As I blew it up, the moisture from my breath and lips made the inside of the balloon slick. As I held it against my face, it slid all over the skin of my face. I finally blew it up, but the pleasure wasn't worth the pain.
I should have made a swing like Siegie's. When I returned to the cottage that evening, my lips were already swelling. By the time I went to bed, the skin around my lips, my nose and my cheeks was blistered. My skin turned an ugly red and started to crack. Mom put some axle grease on my face to soften the skin, but she couldn't find anything to lessen the pain. I had a terrible night. She made me stay in the cottage the next three days while she let Siegie go out exploring. Not only that, she made me play with Luther. I was miserable.
One afternoon Siegie came back to the house with a goat followin...