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As a Student to the Canadian Tobacco Harvest
(Summer 1967)

Max / Frank Strecker, RolfWanka
(Television/Movie Actors) 
Martin Witman (Organisator) 
Klaus L. (Berlin)  Rainhard H. .... (Ruhrgebiet) 
Hartmut und Siegfried... Kiln-Haenger (Nürnberg)  Vic (Toronto) 
Klaus U. (Stuttgart)  Hank Williams sen. (Tobaccofarmer) 
Nancy Williams (Farmer's Wife)  Hank .... jun. (Son) 
Lucie (Daughter)  Sandy (Angest. der Indian Airlies in London) 
Erika S. (Met her at a Pub)  Ms. Mueller (Changed Letters with her) 
Vanessa, Hamilton  New York: 42. Strasse, Hotel ...Westside... 
Blue Horizon Hotel Miami Beach 
Kühne & Nagel, Travel Agency

Preleminary Note

During a lifetime there will be various travels, tours and trips. May be this or that of those will remain as an enduring memory as the most afar one or most adventurous journey. And I am sure: one of these superlatives applies to that voyage to Canada which I undertook in the year 1967 with the intention to earn much money at the Canadian tobacco crop. Ther are lots of memories and - excuse me - I write them down 30 years later to preserve certain details of the story. (The translation happens even later now in February 2006). And excuse me once again: I will add some funny frame stories of the student's life during that era in Stuttgart.

Summer Semester 1967

The SS 67 is my 6th semester. After the 4./5. semester one absolves his Vordiplom (preliminary diploma), my subject is mathematics. When this is done summer and sunshine will play the main role for a while. Since 5 semesters I live "auf dem Haus", that means under the roof of a student association named "Freie Burschen Stuttgart".

I know this name sounds rather conversative. But this fraternity was founded as a protest association against some anachronistic decisions in two other fraternities like the obligation to carry special coloured bands or hats or moreover to bang on each others head with swordlike instruments. So this is a very modern fraternity (meanwhile even female members are accepted). For me who has come from northern Germany to Swabia (Schwaben) it is vitally important to take part in numorous undertakings, get in contact to other fellows and to get friends for a lifetime. Today 30 years later I may say: this was no phrase!

So we have 7 small chambers up above under the roof, very hot during the summer, loud and dusty. In front of the house there is a busy cobblestone lane (Herdweg) so the window panes rattle when the busy traffic rumbles along. In the evenings we have more than 30 deg C up there and even the famous beer Dinckelacker (speak it with the first letter to be a P and translate yourself) will not help much. So sometimes some persons go over board or escalate when the heat and the beer consume cumulate. In spite of any gravitation law up in the highest storage of the house they then waste buckets of water above the entrance doors or simply pour it into a chamber like a careless charwoman. So one victim is our fellow Kuno who just has finished an architectural project and now one of his blueprints is spoiled. He is in despair. (His name Kuno has it's origin from the last carnival event when he acted as a perfect knight Kunibert).

The Dungeon

As I just told you before and moreover after we now live since 5 semesters at this lodging it would be convenient to look for another housing. So I once inspected a residence high above the city of Stuttgart at Degerloch, stucco decorated ceilings, two corner gazeboes (Erker) with a full vista above the city from west to east. May be this would be a problem while studying activities and solving mathematical problems? Another problem are the hire charges and the fact, that the house will soon be sold. But I once have seen such a paradise of apartement. So at last after many useless attempts I end at a provisorial tiny chamber of 9 square meters with a cupboard, a night table and a bed near the famous Bopser half the way up to Degerloch. Tthe hire charges are DM 69.- which still seems to be too much. But there I can deposite my stuff for a while and then patiently can look for a better accommodation. We soon have a name for this lodging: "The dungeon" (in German we said Loch = Hole).

Down to the city and university there runs an old fashioned tramline number 7. I was even possible to jump out off the waggon from the footboard at a conveniant location. Some time later as usual they have replaced this romantic affair by modern facilities. The other connection to the city are the step lanes (in Stuttgart named "Stäffeles". These were to be used late in the evening or early in the morning after some wild activities downtown and this was not done always in a very elegant fashion. And my dungeon was good enough to overcome certain flushs. But on weekends it was impossible to stay there for a longer time, you merely got a claustrophobia. Let us investigate experiences at other places.

ASTA Travel Department

This institution is concerned with travel activities for students of the university. So this time there is a poster advertising good earnings at the tobacco harvest at Canada for two months July and August during the holidays. There are to pay DM 1.000 for oneself for the flight, transfer and organisation and some days at New York. This offer strikes to me like a flash. Give me the formal papers, let them complete and then we will be a participant of this promising project. (Later I heard that a friend of my former school class nearly took part in this matter from Vienna - but unfortunatel finally did not). Now in my dungeon I can dream to fly across the big pond, see New York, finally Canada...

The nasty DM 1.000 are borrowed from my mother. We will finally get enough mony to pay it back. The American Dollar at that time was DM 4,20 and the Canadian DM 3,70. So a journey to America would have been very expensive to any European unless you earn your money over there.

Other Adventures

I find another companion and this is Klaus U., student of geodesy. His family is just visited by two widely related smart girls from the States. May be this would be the occasion for a visit over there? We arrange an evening to get known to each other, have much fun together and the first impression of America: heavy make-up and a strange taste of lipstick...

Then there is another never forgotten day at a certain Sunday. Without any anticipation we go out in the morning for a vine valley of the region and in the evening we will have day as memory of our life - this occurs rarely. We go to the famous Remstal with picturesque vineyards and romantic taverns, villages with funny name like Beutelsbach, Endersbach, Strümpfelbach or our destination Steinreinach. After we had wandered around for a while we end in our favourite tavern "At Emile". And there we find a happy group of senior fellows and spouses of our fraternity. As we are poor students we have not to care about a steadily filled mug of vine on our table. As usual at those days we all enjoy to sing songs which is appreciated even at the tables around. But as I order a strong Romadour cheese and onions I find myself alone for some time.

A gentleman unknown to us gives the big spender - later we learn, that he is the owner of a factory at Bad Cannstatt. The best thing of all are the songs of Mrs. K., her husband is named Bobby and she is named Bobbeline in consequence. She is nearly a professional singer similar to the prominent Evelyn Künneke or so. Bobby plays the piano and she intones the self composed and texted song of the house:

Ja beim Emile hier in Steinreinach,
da sind wir so richtig zu Haus...

This Emile really exists, she is the not quite young landlady, and now it is her turn to look after more vine... We intone: "Lindenwirtin du junge...". At last the happy factory owner invites us all to his vine cellar at the villa at Bad Cannstatt - his wife is out of town. During the drive I success to sit aside an unknown pretty Swabian girl named Erika. She just learns for hotel business and will spend some months in the summer at the world exhibition at Montreal with Pschorr Bräu. Let us remember this.

My memories of the rest of the evening are somewhat nebulous - there was too much vine at all. But as we finally returned at the railway station at Stuttgart I can remember our fellow Eberhard as he got rid of his plentifully consumed Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Cake) into a waste basket.

Happening at the Dungeon

Remember now the poor despaired fellow Kuno: he has found an ideal apartment for two persons just around the corner of our former location. But there is no furniture except a coal burning stove to get it warm. The renters are three generations of women: Mrs. W. (Natascha) her 80 years old mother and the pretty daughter Marina. They have migrated from Russia. We are sure that we would not find a better housing.

So the nasty period with the Dungeon is over but we must do any celebration of this matter. As we have a sportafternoon every Wednesday up at the sport arena at Degerloch we can expect erveryone to be thirsty afterwards. So we provide a crate of beer or two and then climb up to the tiny room: 15 persons altogether! Unseen we absolve the 5 stairways with the beer crates and then stuff everyone into the chamber, three rows of persons on the bed, some on the floor, the rest on the night table and even on the cupboard. Needless to say that the beer soon has gone. So we all leave eventually and stumble back down the stairs, somewhat noisy - may be.

And may be the owner of the house has heard about this in his lodging for he suddenly appears and looks stupid. He goggles at everyone coming along and the last one I am myself. "I will cancel the room since the next month, we just had our farewell party" I say - and he is dumbstruck (sprachlos).

I had paid the rental fee in advance so I soon can move out. This time my stuff will be deposited in fine racks built of fruit boxes in our new palace. I will be far away for some months so this doesn't bother.

Just another affair: at those times it was a favourite activity to buy a certain magazine named TWEN and purchase a personal characterization by Computer usable for any match with a suited (female) person. The computer even selected the suited addresses and sent them to the partners in promise. So I got in contact by letter with a girl named - I may present the name this time - Miss Müller.

A Job at the Television

We still must look for any promissing occasion to earn money. So there is sensational offer: they look for a cable assistent for a television film at the "Komödie im Marquardt". A cable assistent is someone who must provide that the cameraman does not stumble or entangle in the cables and wires behind the camera. There are no special skills necessary for this work so that even a student will success. And the TV pays about DM 70.- the day and that is lot of money. Let us remember that two years ago we got DM 2.50 per hour for sticking stamps or so.

At the beginning of the business we must unload some vans and install all the environment around the stage of the theater. I get known with my cameraman named Dieter and we like each other. He is not much older than I but I feel a certain social difference because he got a dream job and is used to interact with so many prominent persons.

At next the rehearsal (Theaterprobe) activities start. We will have a Swabian folk play written by one of the senior actors, the famous Max Strecker, a Swabian archetype. His son Frank Strecker will give the junior lover and the senior lover will be of the well known Rolf Wanka who once was the idol of my aunt Käti, as she told me later. Though I worked one week at this place I now, 30 years later cannot remember the title of this play - may be cause by its low quality. (Now by the internet I found out that it may have been "Seine Durchlaucht, der Schneider" - "Her Majesty, the Tailor" or so).

After one week preparation we have the dress rehearsal (Generalprobe) on Friday and the premiere on Saturday. Those are both filmed in full length. The audience may be not so happy with all this stuff between them and the stage. So they are informed what`s going there, though everyone would recognize the matter by himself. Moreover they are announced that the performance with the most enthusiastic audience will be sent in the TV some months later (October). This encouragement may be necessary in reference to the simple story of the play. Let us suppose: a simple-minded Swabian fellow loves a similar Swabian girl which in turn falls in love to an elegant French lieutenant. And after many confusions the old shark Max Strecker makes sure that the young lover gets the right girl and the old lover as well. Or something like that. I cannot remember the part of the famous cavalier Rolf Wanka right now.

After we have finished our work at Friday we should go out for a beer with the cameramen. But they are besieged by so many young girls (may be the hope for any career) that they soon disappear to have better expierences. We should go tomorrow to the "Drei Mohren" (a pub nearby) after the premiere - they say.

So the premiere performance finally has ended successfully. After the audience has applauded for a while the actors and other artists are free and the workers community has to dismantle the environment, carry it down the stairs and load it into the TV vans. After an hour we are free as well and I hurry to the Drei Mohren just around the corner (Lautenschlager Straße). And there they are, sitting at a long table and a free seat just at the front side. I sit down but nobody takes a notice of me. The devote waiter comes along and I order a beer. Now let us look around, but where are my friends the cameramen? I bend my body over the table to look at the other end but there they bend as well to peer what a funny person has arrived there. Eventually I look to my neighbours and realize that I sit amidst of all the prominent TV persons. Aside the old Max, vis a vis the young Frank who just presents the latest news of the Porsche Club. Nearby the film actor Rolf Wanka who just rejects a half consumed steak which seems to be too much well done - "I want it some more bloody" he says. "At Vienna a special salad is named after me" he continues and presents himself as an enthusiastic gourmet. The producer on the other side just orders a raw salad of onions, "My wife is far away and there will be some time until I come back" he says. So the result is: I am the only person of the worker cummunity and in consequence everyone ignores me.

For a while I hold on to my beer which is of course soon empty this way. So I arise and with a resolute gait (Gangart) walk to the toilet. From there it is possible to get outside entering various other rooms. Outside I realize: I didn't pay the bill for the one beer, but may be the others will enjoy to pay for me. As I just wonder what a Nobody I am suddenly a flash comes into my thoughts: "Tomorrow I will fly to New York!!!".

Up, up and away

Now let us start for the big journey. At noon there is a bus from Stuttgart to Luxembourg to get a charterflight to New York from there. The name of the airline is Loftleiðir with its headquarters at Iceland. This sounds somewhat special and we will see that this corresponds with the reality.

At the airport at Luxembourg we have to wait some hours and then are informed that the aeroplane cannot start today because there is any engine trouble. So about 200 passengers are transferred to some hotels and this works  astoundingly well. Moreover we have a bus excursion around the little country the next day. All this is payed by Loftleiðir or their assurance.

Propellers above the Clouds

In the early afternoon the plane is ready for takeoff. All seats are taken and we argue that there would be 200 victims plus the crew members in the case of a crash. Though we meanwhile live in the jet-age we still got a propeller plane with four RR (Rolls Royce) engines. After a long start-up the aeroplane takes off just before the end of the runway. Let us say that we have a somewhat dull feeling around the stomach or so at the first flight of our life. This is enforced if you have a look to the wings out of the windows. There are some screws of the iron cowling (Verkleidung) jumping up and down. May be this is OK and we soon are above England and heading north - and at last as it was to expect - have a stop-over at Keflavik, the airport of Iceland. That's nice, there are not so many occasions for a visit of Iceland. This island looks like the grey surface of the moon from above, as if there were no vegetation at all. After the landing we are not allowed to leave the buildings because of certain custom laws. So we will not see anything but can tell for the rest of our life that we once have been at Iceland.

Iceland looking like the Moon


Another sensation. As we continue the flight we cross the southern headland of Greenland and the white planes of ice reflect the sunlight. At the ocean there are white spots and these may be icebergs. May be once the Titanic found its end around this area. As we come near to Labrador there are huge black crowds of clouds in front. We fly around this chaotic weather conditions but can still watch the lightnings of the thunderstorm from nearby.

Then it gets dark and finally we approach New York. There is a impressing ocean of lights down there. We have many waiting loops until the permission for landing is given. The landing is OK and we have the first steps on this continent with goose bumps. At Keflavik there was still some chill but here we are welcomed by a sticky tropic air. Then we have to pass the customs control and I can still read the stamp in my passport: "US-IMMIGRATIO-JUL-25-1967. We are transferred by bus to the city and to the hotel Westside or so, 42th street. This hotel my be not so elegant but there is a huge entrance hall. But the rooms are shabby, dark  chambers without any windows. The  tap water is highly chlorinated and an air conditioner spends its noise all the time. For now it is too late for further expeditions and we sink in somewhat like a bed.

New York

We get up early and hury out to the streets and avenues. The air is like in a greenhouse again and fed by varius smells, not only nice ones especially above the grilled air shafts of the underground resp metro. We enter the next cafe for braekfast and flush down some sandwiches with coffee.

Luxusliner "United States"

For the first excursion a roundtrip by ship around the peninsula of Manhattan along the East River and the Hudson River is obligatory. This is a tour of superlatives, I remember only few of them: the oldest rope bridge, the highest building, the biggest hospital, the most famous university and so on. And another sensation is the world's most famous ocean liner, the United States which just is ready for departure at the pier. It is not to be seen at this time that this ship will be withdrawn from the oceans two years later in 1969. What a loss of such an romantic symbol. Look at this link: http://www.ss-united-states.com/.

Another story. For the journey I got four slide films. For my friend Klaus U. who has no camera with him I take the main shots twice to avoid later duplication costs and the inevitable loss of quality. We will refer to this matter later.

I now give a list of other excursions during this week:

May be this was not enough for one week? Though we won't say to be profound experts about NY thereafter may be it was enough for a while.

Transfer to Canada

After those impressive but somewhat strenuous days in NY we shall start for the main profession of our journey. The whole tobacco-crew is loaded into a bus, we have Sunday, 30th Jly, and  start towards North-West. We get known to the organisator of this arrangement. He is a student and son of a tobacco farmer. We argue that he makes good money with this deal by "head-money" or so? And his name is "Martin Wittman"! Do you know a person with a similar name? I do! We will have another story about this fact at the end of our story.

Behind Buffalo we cross the Canadian border at Fort Erie. Our tobacco district is located north of the Lake Erie. There is a famous ballad "John Maynard" of Theodor Fontane concerning this Lake and I am happy to find the translation in the net:
or: johnmaynard.htm
As we reach the tobacco region our organisator distributes the canditates from a list to the different places where the farmers and their families welcome them on a red carpet, if I may say so. As the region gets more and more lonesome we finally reach our destination at Vanessa near Delhi west of Hamilton. Our family is named Williams, the boss has immigrated from Yugoslavia 25 years ago. At the "new world" he has got a farm and by marriage got a second one, and this one is called Nancy. So they own two farms and moreover two grown up children: Hank and Lucy, and we will have more or less fun together.

Our Team
The members of our team are - as much I can remember now:

Klaus U. and myself,
Klaus L. from Berlin,
Reinhard H. from the Ruhr Basin,
Hartmut and Siegfried from Nuremberg or Fürth,
Vic, a Canadian guy from Toronto,
and some others whose peculiarieties I cannot remember.

We are all quartered in a big garage with simple matress beds. The morning starts very early, at dawn the harsh voice of Nancy sounds from the kitchen: "Weaky, weaky boys, come up!!!". May be we would have preferred a ring of an alarm clock instead. We then wash our swollen eyes under the icy water of a tap and hurry for breakfast time. A good employer knows that it is favourable to give his workers a good food and so we cannot express any criticism about that matter. Nancy is real a good cook.

We cannot start with our work at once, the tobacco plants are not quite ripe yet. Instead of that we are introduced to the harvest of the maize fields. It is a nice work to stroll through the mansized plants and throw the maize cobs up to a load floor of a carriage in front. At another day we had to install drainage pipes from a swampland nearby. Klaus L. comes back with a bleeding face: he has sweet blood and the mosquitoes like that.

During our spare time we enjoy to lie in the sun and have a bath in the pool, which is used to collect water. At another day we have a less enjoyable experience. They have catched a sweet looking animal similar to our groundhog. (I suppose it was a gopher - the predecessor of the www?). At the farmers folk those animals are not so much popular because the dig in the grounds and cause some damage thereby. So the judgement is clear: sentence of death!

The poor Ground Hog
The executor shall be the farm's sheepdog. It is impossible to intervent against this cruel act, the locals are impatiently awaiting this sensation (Remember the Corridas at Spain!). The fight starts thrilling as long the gopher or whatever it was is able to hiss and threat and to keep the dog at some distance. But then it ends apruptly: at a short moment the dog gets its chance and grasps his victim and soon there is no more life in the body of the poor animal. And as we discuss about this event afterwards we hear the old argument: such a death is more honourable than to be struck to death by a spade. May be.

In the evenings we stroll to the neighboured village Vanessa. There is a pub with two gambling machines. One is a baseball and the other an ice hockey play and we enjoy those for the rest of the evening. Let's say a word concerning alcoholics. There are somewhat restrictive rules about this matter. You can buy some beer or so only at special shops and are not allowed to transport broached boxes to prevent, that anyone starts drinking during the ride. So the beer supply at our garage is always a small one and we have to rationate like on an expedition at the Antarctica or Himalaya.

The Tobacco Harvest

At last we are happy as the harvest period begins. So we are introduced to the various process operations. I will tell about this later. At first we must form some teams for the different tasks. The most persons are needed to crop the leafs. For I have eyeglasses I am not dedicated for this job because in the early morning the leafs will be wet from the dew drops and one would soon stumble around in blindness. So my job will be the "Unloader" which is not as easy as well. You must take into consideration, that the weight of the total harvest so finds its way assisted by the arms of a single person. I cannot figure out the final weight.

The Unloader at Work

The last task is done by the "Killnhangers" and we will see later what their work will be. These will be Hartmut and Siegfried who have the appropiate body height. But the catch is, that the Unloader and the Killnhangers shall get 2 Dollars less per day. Moreover we soon find out that the local workers get some Dollars more per day. So we feel to be treated as welcome but cheap employees. The fact is that during the harvest period the farmers need countless additional workers who cannot be brought up from the local region. So various peculiar individuals come along from all over the continent in hope for a fortune. We are warned from the very beginning to take care on our equipment and money and not to get in contact to any curious persons.

In consequence of this financial situation we start to discuss the matter with our boss. This is not so enjoyable because this old Canadian fellow is rather bullheaded (stur). At last we threaten to go on strike and then we success to get 18 Dollars the day for everybody - still less than a local worker receives. But at the current exchange rate this would be DM 70.- which amount is difficult to earn at one day at home. Moreover we have logis and food free and so we are content with this result. Meanwhile we all have solidarized which each other and prefer to address each fellow by "Hello Partner".

Now we will have 6 weeks without any rest day, day after day we will do our work and the rhythm of the day will be the same all the time.

Worst of all of course is to awake in the morning by this awful "Weaky, weaky boys!!!" which may sound in our ears until the end of life. After breakfast we sit on an open trailer and feeling rather cold are transferred to the appropiate field location. Then everyone looks for his place, the leaf pickers sit on a special vehicle which is drawn along the rows of tobacco plants. There is a crossbar above and four seats hang beneath it. In front of the seats there are big boxes where the pickers can deposit the tobacce leaves which they rip off to the left and right with both hands. So they can surmount eight rows in a single passage. Caused by the gradual ripe progress the plants are cropped from the bottom up.

Some years ago the pickers had to walk which means ducked down along the rows. So it often happened that some poor fellows came from the fields in the evening, buckled like a bow and unable to straighten up. Many had to give up because it was too hard for them.

Activities at the Killn
As the containers are filled they are replaced by empty ones and the full boxes are lifted by a front loader and transferred to the needle or sewing machine. There is the domain of the Unloader to raise the leaves from the container up to a band-conveyor (Fließband) and to spread them out with an elegant sweep. (I believe that I would master this special drive even now, 40 years later). At the needle machine some women fix the leaves at both sides of a wooden cane named Stick. Then the leaves are sewed together and the loaded stick is transferred to a special dry hut named Killn. And this is the domain of the Killnhangers who climb around in the scaffolds inside and hang the sticks in rows where they will be dried about two or three days with in heat like in a sauna.

After the tobacco has dried - it looks yellow now - it will be packed on pallets. There is a rumour that such a twin farm as ours makes some 100.000 Dollars profit the year. But we cannot prove this fact and of course nobody will be willing to tell us such intimate things. Anyway - after the tobacco is sold the Williams Family travels to Florida after Christmas and will have a nice time there.

During some sparetime I take photos of the various process operations, their place and the collegues. Let's talk about later.

So I spend my time day after day with this unloader activities. During this hard work the day seems twice as long as usual in student's happy life. I swear never to miss again the even most bordering lectures back home in the future ( this will not be the case in reality). My collegues at the sewing machine are women. The boss is Lucie (the daughter) and she thinks that she is my supervisor too. Though I don't bother I sometimes get an angry look or a growl if the leaves are not spread out perfectly at their table. The other women - some are Indians - enjoy no better fate because - as we soon found out - Lucie is a spitfire. Moreover they say she is engaged to someone so nobody aims to fall in love with her.

In the evenings we don't go out any more. The walk to Vanessa and the gambling machines would be too strenuous. So far from home we follow a typical German trade and play a long time Skat. As I told you before I got in contact to that unknown Miss Müller by the journal TWEN some days before the big journey. So I write a letter to her now and then and even got some reply which was very comforting in those days(May be I thought to be such a fascinating guy - working in Canada and admired by a Swabian girl?).

A Free Day

After some weeks the behaviour of our farmer family gets more and more friendly in spite of those problems at the beginning. They appreciate that they have a good team this year. There are no incidents or failures. After half of the harvest period we get 1 Dollar more the day. And after 4 weeks non-stop labour we get a free day.

We soon agrre what to do with this day: we are transferred to the next railway station, get a train and soon leave it at the station "Niagara Falls". Guess what is to be seen at this place? I still remember.

At first we detect that lots of honeymoon couples seem to come to this place for the phrase "Honeymoon" is to be read everywhere. All the attractions around cost just one Dollar which is the fee for a nineteenth of our day. We purchase an Indian's Dancing Show and feel sorry for some martial redskins who dance around in a circle in their war paint and coloured costumes and cry like attacking any army of the white man. We laugh and laugh about this spectacle - it is really worth the Dollar. But what really happened to the Indian folks and still does - that is told nowhere...

Then there is a museum presenting documents and equipment of the Niagara-Fall-Fallers or better the Dare Devils. Those are people who never die out in spite of their mostly shorter life. In this case they dare to jump down those falls in any container or box or something like that. It is said that one or another had survived this adventure. But we resign to go in there (1 Dollar) to prevent any own curious ideas.

As well we resign to climb up the look-out tower, entrance 1 Dollar. It is a nice feeling instead to sit on a cost-free stonewall and watch the masses of water as they rush along under your feet and some meters away incline over the edge. Not so enjoyable to think about this nice place that it would be a perfect startpoint for committing suicide or to end as a hero in the dare devil museum.

But then we spend another Dollar to visit an underground tunnel which ends at a viewpoint just behind the mighty curtains of waters and spray. The most funny thing is that every visitor has to wear a waterproof coat and a kind of southwester hut. That's the sensation for the American folks who burst in laughter and take photographs of each other. On the other side there is not much to be seen outside behind the falls. But now we can tell that we once were behind the Niagara Falls and may be our grandchildren one day will be proud of it.

We still spend another Dollar to enter a boat, and there is a better view. Of course waterproof clothes are necessary again accompanied by the same amusement. The boat approaches the falls as near as it can into mighty clouds of waterfume. If the sun comes out and you lift your head you can see pretty rainbows.

At last we do something which is free of charge and walk over the bridge and cross the American border. There is a real border check and we get a stamp in our passport: US Immigration, Niagara Falls. Besides a nice view from the bridge I so got a longlasting souvenir and can now date back the very day: it was the 8th of September 1967, a Friday.

We Did It

The Tobacco Pants are Burnt

I have heard the English phrase "We did it" if someone has finished a hard work or trial so let it be at this place. Soon after we had our free day the harvest period comes to an end. At one day we had to timber masses of palettes for the dried tobacco ready for sale. It is always astounding how fast one learns the skills of a profession, so soon we hammer the nails like a carpenter by trade - or nearly so. As the last leafs of the tobacco plants get weak and limp (welk) our work is done. There is a photo (let us talk about it later) as I put my tobacco soaked pants into an oil tub where it is offered to the flames.

Now we have the day of payment. There were about 18 to 19 Dollars the day 40 day long to sum up to about 750 Dollars and as exchange rate of DM 3.70 we have nearly DM 3.000 - a lot of money. And so we have a problem if we go out in the free world with so much money in our neck pouch or elsewhere. And the other problem is, and that is not so serious: what to do during the two rest weeks. Some head out to the next bigger town to buy a 100 Dollar car and drive around in Canada and the US. Klaus U. wants to visit his relatives and girlie cousins. I still remember the smell of lipstick and prefer to be eager to visit the Montreal Expo, guess why? So Klaus and Reinhard think this to be a good idea and so we three stay together.

I cannot remember that we had a great farewell party or so. But we all have the idea once to come back to this place single handed - but that never happened.

We are discarded at the rail station with a great ballyhoo and part from our family as friends. We think to have done a good work and our employer will have the benefit of it when he and his family will enjoy their holidays at Florida one day.

After a pleasing rail journey we arrive at Toronto. We will stay for a day and look around at the city. Many modern tower blocks, one building is famous and that is the University with two semicircular facades. At the shores of the Lake Ontario I remember vast park areas, but these are all my memories of Toronto.


At the next day we continue for Montreal. As soon as possible I hurry to the area of the World Exhibition and look for the place of the "Pschorr Bräu". I soon find it and at the office I ask for Erika S. (you remember her from the first chapters?). "She is just not at work now, may be then or then...". OK, then I should have a glance to the rest of this exhibition though this seems to me less interesting than my favourite Erika. My impression is, that the various nations try to beat each other by the grandeur of their pavillons. The German pavillon is an ingenious tentlike construction of the architects Behnisch and Frey-Otto in Stuttgart(!). Later (1972) this kind of roof construction will be famous worldwide by the Olympic Stadium at Munich.

As the time of "then or then.." comes up I return to the Pschorr Bräu office and really now meet Erika in her office. She is really surprised to meet such an unexpected visitor. It is my turn to explain the circumstances and to declare who I am really be. It is obvious that she has not waited for this meeting such hopefully as I. But I success to invite her for an evening meeting.

Back at the hotel my companions confess that they have arranged something. They have gone to a travel agency named Kühne & Nagel and booked a 10 day journey to Miami-Beach inclusive the flight, hotel charges and halfboard (Halbpension) for 150 Dollar. There would be another free place for me. At first I hesitate for I do not know how the affair with Erika will turn out. So in the evening we meet and go out dancing. Erika is a decent girl for she is Swabian and I am decent because I am a fool. So nothing more happens and I do not feel to disclame the Florida-adventure. So I check in the next day at the travel bureau.


Soon we sit in the aeroplane starting for Miami. At Miami-Beach we have booked the Blue Horizon Hotel. And now let us explain the background. We have purchased a special offer for the low season  which shall prevent that the hotels are quite empty at all. During these months the Florida region is so hot and damp that a normal human being will never have the idea to think of any holidays there. The main season here are the months during the winter but that cannot help us just now.

On the other hand after our hard work we are eager for a lazy stay, to swim in the sea and so on. And really the heat is murderous. The humidity is so high that outside it is better to stay near the swimming pool. The hotels have those pools because a bath in the sea does not refresh at all. But nevertheless we go to the beach and pay for wooden divans to legalize our habitation.

Under the Hot Sun of Miami Beach
We are in the tropical areas what is to be seen by the many palm trees around. Sometimes we find a coconut that had fallen down or was washed ashore. We break the nutshell with a stone and look if it not stinks inside it may be consumable. At the sea we sometimes watch swarms of fishes. At some spots there is a strange bubbling in the waters and we suppose that there are some sharks or something like that. One of the locals declares the matter to be somewhat delicately. The officials don't like to confess the existance of sharks neither exists any public statistic how many bodies or parts of them vanish over the year.

The other story happens with the land agent companies. The agents come into the hotels not to sell any estates or grounds but to invite to special advertising events. Once we agree and enjoy a delicious meal at a noble fish restaurant. But afterwards we are transferred around Miami to a special bureau where they declare us that we can have the chance of our life if we acquire any untiled piece of land somewhere which will be of a high value within the next years. As we all are poor students we can apologize and success to get out of this desaster.

But there is even an increase as another agency offers a free flight across the peninsula of Florida to the westcoast. So we don't hesitate. By this event we even can observe the famous Everglades - from above. But there are only grey planes and no Alligator or so to be seen by the distance. At the westcoast we are guided to an senior's resort. There is a first class golf course. The "Green" is very cultivated and feels like silk (Seide). Then there is an assembly hall with lots of extremely rouged elder ladies, the colour of their hair varies from pink to blue, most of them have eyglasses with frames formed like a butterfly. They all dosome  crochet or knit work. Thereafter we are transported by boat along the settlement, the houses are reachable on water canals by boat only. Each house has a quay - they say and that is just what we would have expected. At last we get a dinner and then the obligate session in a bureau takes place. We learn that the glorious future of Florida is just at this place. You will have the occasion to acquire a piece of ground at this place with a multiple value within years only once in your life.

Someone had told us that such a sold ground often is in no way cultivated or is to be found 3 feet under a water surface. We finally resign to engage in a large investment for such an old-age residence, may be there would be some time until we could use it. But it was a fine thing, the flight, the meal and the other sensations and everything for free.

Another sport is to wander along the beach downtown Miami. There you can admire one place of hotel built of steel and glass after the other. We end at a street bar and soon find out that the owner is a German mistress from Erlangen. She chatters something about a party with some friends and that she would like to invite us. We are very  proud of this matter. But one day later she tells us that the affair will not success.

Someone has told us that around Miami Beach there are so many rich widows or so who look for this or that cavalier with their state coaches on the streets. Shall I tell you that there three guys from Germany stroll along the kerbstone waitng for any sensation? But there is none! But we meet a girl from London at the beach, may be her name was Sandy or Sheila. She is an employee at Air India and enjoys any free holidays from her business. I success to invite her for an evening stroll, but nothing more happens - I still am a fool, you know?

So at last every evening we end at the TV and watch a Hitchcock or so during the few periods when they don't present any advertisement. But it is good to practise the English language.

Soon the 10 days are over by laziness and the described activities. We fly back to New York and arrive past midnight. We go to Manhatan by bus but have not booked any hotel and won't like to offer more money for a short overnight stay. So we enter the known hotel at the 42th street and linger around in the armchairs of the reception hall. After some time there really come along some fellows of our project community accompanied by some loose girls. We look somewhat enviously at them.

At last someone has the idea to ask for Klaus U. at the reception desk, may be he got a room in here. And really: he has booked a room for this night. So we assure that we have arranged an urgent meeting and arefinally  informed about the number of his room. So at 4 am in the night three tired guys stumble in his room and he is not quite amused. But we can doze on the floor for some short hours.

After we are all awake we can tell about our adventures. Klaus has appreciated his familary obligations. I am the fool again because I didn't take advantage of the "lipstick acquaintance". So we have no own German-American romance. As we meet other companions we hear different stories. Some have really purchased one of those 100 $ cars and have driven around in the Canadian woodland - not without this or that break down. Others have bought a 150 $ ticket for the Greyhound busses and were permitted to ride all over the USA. Some have come as far as Mexico and now proudly wear a Sombrero from there or present a bottle of Tequila.

Return Flight

Somewhat bleary eyed we spend another day in NY without any great activity. In the evening we betake ourselves to the airport and our flight will be delayed by a couple of hours once again. As finally the passengers are called out my name does not appear. I feel panic! Until now I shared all difficulties with my companions and now there threatens a further stay in the wide strange world? (If the song of Sting would have been introduced at that time I would really sing: "I'm an allien in New York..."). At last we figure out that they have cancelled my name from the passenger's list caused by the similarity with that Martin Wittman, who has done his work in Europe and definitely would not return.

After some discussions with the staff at the counter they ensure to give me a chance if someone else will not arrive for the flight. This is a proper feeling for the rest of the waiting time but finally it works and I may enter the plane awaiting to be at home tomorrow. The plane is a modern one driven by jet engines and not by propellers. Again the start needs a long runway may be caused by the heavy load of all those souvenirs like sombreros and so on? Nine hours later we land at Brussels at about 3 pm.

Now we must see how to come home. I get a train to Osnabrück 50 km from my home. But for the rest of the night there is no other train available. So I must kill another night time - the third one in a row. I spent the time in the waiting room until 4 am and hear the life story of an alcoholic who wonders why he suffers from so many misfortunes in his life. At 5 am I enter the first train and I will have to change some stations ahead. This does not work, I awake two stations too late. So I have to wair for another hour until the opposite train at last takes me home.

Until I am a real human beeing again I need a longer nap and this lastst 20 hours.


After the long sleep the first thing to do is to send the slide films to the development laboratory at Kassel. If you got luck you have to wait impatiently for two days until the completed slides return back by mail. And now I can clear up the announced foto story. I got pretty slides on two films from New York, many pictures of them twice because I shot them as well for my friend Klaus U. And the third film is exposed twice and in consequence the fourth film is black. So I am the fool again. On the twice exposed slides there are some funny effects like a headjump above the Niagara Falls and an enlightet bulb hanging in the skies above the world exhibition at Montreal. This is funny but a small comfort.

At the begin of the Winter semester 67/68 I return to Stuttgart and stumble into our new home. So I must wipe my eyes. My friend Kuno has brought to bear all his skills as a student of architectural arts. His room is perfectly established by solid pine boards and racks. A big desktop plane in front of the windows where no one will ever spoil again his drawings by water buckets or so. A small kitchen behind a curtain, a  lounge and a comfortable French bed with orange draperies.

So I look stupid for quite a while in front of my elegant racks of orange and grapefruit boxes.

But there is the help of some experts and after some days or weeks of busy work with saw and drill machines, sandpaper and furniture varnish I am the king in my home as well. Of course some amount of our tobacco account finds its way out thereby.

At last we celebrate the final completion with a bottle of "Seagrims" (whisky) which has come with me over the Atlantic Ocean. So my memories on this event are not quite clear...

At last I must tell about the affair with my correspondent Miss Müller. We once had a meeting in the palace grounds of Stuttgart. Though we had changed letters over some long months there was no flash of love between us: I was a fool, you know?

And the other affair with Erika? We changed letters for a while as past the Montreal Expo she was as Direktrice at a hotel at Leysin at the Lake Leman (Genfer See). She was skiing all over the winter and lived in an upper storage of the society, and so the contact faded away after some time. For I was a fool, you know?

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