Monday, November 19, 2007

An Illuminating Train Ride

As I noted in a previous post, I'm in California right now. I love California, and while it may have as many faults as an area full of humanity would be expected to posess, I enjoy the vibe of this state alot. It's also a great break from the bleak, wet depressiveness of Seattle.

While I was on the train ride from Seattle to San Francisco (Oakland to be more precise), I got to talking to a very interesting man sitting across from me. Well up in years, he was dressed and looked like just about any other aging American male and had the kind of dark wit that many older American males have. After talking for a while, I learned that he was actually a German American who had arrived in America after World War II.

I couldn't make sense of alot of it because the train setting made it a little difficult to understand each other at times, but I still learned much of his history. He was about fifteen when the war ended, and had never seen any combat but had been enlisted by the Nazis. His family was in Ukraine, and by 1952 he was allowed to come to America as a "D.P." (Displaced Person). When he came, he didn't know how to speak a lick of English, and according to him, he learned what many words were from the Sears catalog, where the meanings of item were spelled out quite bluntly.

I noticed that the man still had an accent, which he preferred to describe this way: "Yes, I still have an accident - Oh, I mean accent!"

The number of people alive who experienced the second world war is getting smaller and smaller each day, and it was a blessing to be able to meet one of these men.

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