Netolice and Austria

In order to fill time and try to keep troops out of trouble, the Yankee Division organized a school offering a variety of courses one of which was a course of high school level physics. The school was in a Bureau of Fisheries building in Netolice, a town some distance from Vodnany and I decided to enroll which I did and took physics. I had had college level physics so aside from an hour or two of classroom time I was free to explore the town, play cards etc.

Things were very quiet during this period and I don't remember too much else except that you could go to the barbershop and get a shave and a haircut just like the old saying "shave and a haircut, 2 bits" because that's what it cost, 25 cents. Too bad with prices like that, there was almost nothing for sale because very little in the way of civilian goods had been made during the war. I was too young to be interested in antiques, but I imagine some of the older guys cleaned up on stuff that they found they could get for cigarettes or small amounts of American money.

Our next assignment was in the Austrian Alps near the Hungarian border. Our squad was housed in an old tavern in Spital on Phyrn, a small village near a mountain pass. We had a small guard shack at the top of the pass and along with us was a squad of British who had a scout car and had served in No Africa, then up through Italy etc. They were a great group and I particularly liked one called Ginger because of his red hair. He and I usually drew guard duty together and would sit in the shack and play Cribbage all night. This was good duty in beautiful country.

The area hadn't been hunted for several years and one of our squad, Otto Hemkin, was an experienced hunter from Iowa. Ot and I would hike up the mountains fairly often and explore the country. There were little hunting lodges scattered through the area and they were open with the understanding that if you used any of the fire wood, you would replace it.

Ot and I climbed up fairly high one day and climbed right into a heavy snow storm. We entered a lodge, built a fire in the stove and had a good time enjoying the lunch that we brought with us. We did replenish the wood and late in the day started back down through the snow.

At a certain level we came out of the storm and could see clearly down and across the valley. When we had come down a fair way, Ot spotted a deer across the valley and we decided to try for it. We did succeed in getting close enough and Ot dropped it with one shot. (We had tried other times to get a deer and never hit a one). Ot borrowed my knife and worked on the deer, which was a very large one, while I went on back to our place and got the British to go out with the scout car and bring the deer back. A woman in the house cooked the venison for us and we had a great dinner.

Rations were short at the time and we later found out that the people in the quartermaster corps were selling off the cigarettes and rations that we were suppose d to get. We didn't get cigarettes very frequently, mostly chewing tobacco, occasionally cigars, and although we were supposed to get a regular beer ration, I think we got it only once. The British were getting their rations regularly, including American Beer.

It was while cutting my plate full of venison that I noticed I had a pain in my wrist. It got worse through the night and I went on sick call the next morning. The medic showed me red streaks on my wrist and starting up my arm-blood poisoning. I had cut my finger with the knife that Ot used to cut the deer. This was my introduction to penicillin. At that time a needle in the butt every three hours night and day for I don't remember how long. I was a sick soldier and I'm not sure how long I was hospitalized.

Our American group played lots of Pinochle and Poker. We played 3-handed cutthroat Pinochle and I was pretty good at it. Jim Green and I had a patsy who just couldn't resist betting over his head and I would win enough at this game so that I could get a little stake to enter the poker game with the big boys. I always got cleaned out in short order and went back to Pinochle for the next week.

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