(This particular story of my fathers is one of the longest and most retold over the years. I will break it down in a series of posts. ~Kati)
“The Potato Story, Chapter 1”
The previous night I didn’t sleep well. Not because some unusual thing bothered me. What bothered me regardless of the day or night was my hunger, but this time the hunger was extraordinary special. The day before while working in the factory a few truck loads of frozen potatoes was delivered to the camp. Covered in canvas and fenced in with barbwire. In the case the reader does not know, I have to explain Once the potato is frozen it can not be defrosted, because it becomes highly perishable, especially in large quantities. In the Russian dictionary, the word freezer was missing or not in existence. Or it may be possible the Germans took all the freezers and coolers away. I really never questioned why because if I did, my day would pass like any other day; being hungry and hopeless in knowing I could do nothing about it. This day I had hope, I had a dream; believe me my hopelessness was closer to reality than the average Russian.
My dream came from the fact that lots of potatoes, never-mind it was frozen or not, I was not picky at all; lay on the ground right by our barracks. After breakfast, I miserably went to our room which was on the second floor. I blew some hot air on the frozen window and scratched the ice enough to see outside. It was the most beautiful scene I ever saw. My eyes like a x-ray penetrated through the canvas, the only thing I saw was the potatoes and lots of them. Even though I just finished my so-called breakfast and half my daily allowance of bread, the hunger was never-ending. I went and laid down on my bunk bed, which was only bare wood and made the plan of my dreams.
A little while passed by before the other wood-workers started to come inside the room. There was thirty of us, and I was the youngest at eighteen. The older cabinet-maker who I always admired and respected looked down at me and smiled. I smiled back, and then to my surprised he said, “I know what you are thinking about,” I didn’t answer. Then he said, “the potatoes outside there bother you.” I just got up and walked back to the window, taking another look at the “potato field.” I then turned around and told everyone who was present in the room, “if I die, I will eat from it!” It was a serious remark, one I knew I had to stick to.
(To be continued:)