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Showing posts from July, 2017

SPOILED BRAT OR PRISONER IN A TUG OF WAR? AND MY FIRST MODES OF TRANSPORT

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Those are two pictures of Linz, my hometown, the Stadtplatz on the left and our beautiful cathedral (one of many, mostly Baroque) churches in the city.


Here I grew up and should my previous chapters have  lent you to believe that I was a spoiled brat, scion of an old and affluent family, kindly let me disabuse you of this misguided notion. I was a pawn played between two very powerful opposites, my father and my grandfather both of whom you have met before. Dad had given me up pretty much but I was still a possession, his eldest offspring and thus had to be given some attention if only for social respectability. On Sundays I was dressed up and dragged to church but after church dad and his new family disappeared quickly and granddad and I went to a beer garden for the traditional Austrian "Fruehshoppen", a men's brunch of beer and sausages.
It took me a long time to see the underlying motives at play: Grandfather was the Chairman of the board of all the family companies, f…

A CONTINUATION OF YESTERDAY'S POST:

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Here I am supposed to be talking about "puberty". Since I just left the cancer center in St.Jonesbury after 4 hours of chemo therapy and 40 minutes of radiation, this might just be a subject to cheer me up!



Those are traditional Austrian women in their "Dirndlkleider". Girls wear them from an early age and well until their retirement. There are costumes for work, for school, for church and for parties but today, they are mostly worn for family get together s and formal occasions but every woman has them. An expert can tell from which region the outfits come from, Viennese ladies have different colors than those from Styria etc. The same hold true for men who proudly wear their "Loden" suits and coats and they are very much visible even in offices and banks, are worn  by politicians and innkeepers. Quality hand made Loden suits can cost thousands of Euros! Some ladies outfits are in the same price range and nobody will ever been seen in a Chinese knock-of…

FROM BUNGEE CORDS TO PUBERTY

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FROM BUNGEE CORDS TO PUBERTY



This is pretty much what my first solo flight looked like. A whimsical but sturdy glider of pre- war vintage was being launched by bungee cord on the edge of a hill. It gives a whole new meaning to the old song "Nearer my God to Thee..."

I realize that I had promised to speak about schooling, life in the late 50s in Austria and such issues of gravitas, but my first flight on my 14th birthday at the Linz Glider Club was to me a lot more important than Latin, long divisions, physics, chemistry, biology, music, arts education, history, geography and the other litany of subjects we inmates of the Gymnasium in Linz had to muster. When I call us "inmates", we were just that. In order to get into a Gymnasium you first had to pass a grueling examination which only about 20% of recent primary school graduates managed. Gymnasium is eight long years and if you lived through it and had good grades at "Maturation", a student was guaranteed a…

"A VERY PECULIAR CHILD"

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"A VERY PECULIAR CHILD"










On a beautiful day in May 1946 I was baptized at the Silesian Don Bosco church in Linz. My godfather later told me that I was sound asleep throughout the festivities which proves that I had already begun to develop healthy defense mechanisms. The other two memories relayed to me were that my father gave me a small silver Focker airplane on a chain as a baptismal present. Manfred von Richthofen, the great air ace of the first World war was my father's life long idol and the source of my first name. This proved somewhat prophetic as I would later spend about 40 years of my life flying everything others let me. I still shudder at the thought of flying a contraption like the one depicted but then I never pretended to be a heroic type. The second thing that day was that the baptismal party got properly inebriated at the Klosterhof beer garden.
The church however became important in my young life. As soon as possible I was sent to their kindergarten which …

AN AUSPICIOUS BEGINNING ?

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This is a photo of the Niedernhart Mental Asylum in Linz, Austria. During the years after the annexation of Austria by Germany, this hospital was affiliated with the Mauthausen concentration camp and here prisoners were evaluated for their fitness to work in the camp's gruesome stone quarries. If found "unfit" they were euthanized. More than 1,000 Mauthausen prisoners were put to death in this place.
On Saturday, April 27, 1946, a cold and sleety day according to my grandfather, I was born in this hospital just after midnight. The facility had survived the massive bombing raids of 1944 and 1945 and was one of the few institutions staffed and used as general hospitals.
This place of birth has been the source of some amusement to my friends over the years. It is a good conversation starter when you can state: "I was born in an insane asylum" Of course, others, not so well disposed toward me would shake their head sadly and probably thought "I always knew there…

PROLOGUE

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"A Life Well Wasted" is only a working title for my auto-biography. Maybe as time goes on, I shall find a more appropriate appellation for this work but right now it sits well with me, it rolls on my tongue, it will make me laugh about myself and hopefully, I shall get some of you to chuckle with me.
It will be honest to the best of my recollection but it will reflect my views, right or wrong, about things I have seen and experienced and thus must be subjective and representative of my feelings and thoughts at the time events unfolded.
The first chapter will be published by Sunday evening and if interested, just bookmark the blog and follow me through seven, often discordant decades.

Manfred Helmuth Rieder
Newport, Vt., July 21, 2017