SPOILED BRAT OR PRISONER IN A TUG OF WAR? AND MY FIRST MODES OF TRANSPORT
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.
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, father was the Generaldirector (General Manager) but since it was granddad's money that had rebuilt the post war mess, he held the purse strings and behind the scenes held an iron sway over the works and the vineyards. You never saw him but he probably was to my father that never ending toothache in the back of the jaw. But never an impolite word was spoken. This was a bitter skirmish that had started when papa decided to fly in Hitler's Luftwaffe while grandfather had a good idea of where this mess was leading and split for Switzerland. The war years were never mentioned in my presence but when we visited dad's house, all war memorabilia, normally proudly displayed, were missing from shelves and walls...
An other underlying issue was that of grandfather's last will and testament. He was majority stock holder, I lived with him, he loved me very much and father could possibly see the possibility of some conflict looming in the future. While she was alive, my grandmother joked that dad humored my ambitions to fly and to drive clapped out fast cars later in my teen years so that the conflict might resolve itself through my own doing.
Well, that did not work and I had saved enough of my allowance to buy my first moped at age 15. Here it is:
It had cost about 600 Schillings (about $ 30.-), it ran well, had a puny 49cc engine but it was all mine and consumed less gas than my granddad's Zippo lighter.There was one problem though: Waltrudis arrived in my life and there was no way to add a second seat to the old Puch moped, so serious moped shopping had to be done. I traded up to a two seater which looked like this: (This is an accurate photo but not my machine - mine was green).
KTM (Kronreif & Trunkenpoltz) manufactured and still makes, very fine mopeds and motorbikes in neighboring Mattighofen and we supplied all the steel pressings for the firm, so I was able to finagle a favorable deal on this two seat moped with a front splash guard so my cherished passenger did not get mud on her clothes. We used this everywhere - I picked her up from school, it was our picnic mobile (basked strapped on the back rack). This was good fun until my 16th birthday when grandfather decided it was time for me to be issued an automobile. He disliked anything on two wheels and felt it was an investment to put me on four. Frugal as always he found a Goggomobile 250S micro car, very popular in Austria and Germany at the time. Goggo made more than 240,000 examples of this car until the company was sold to BMW in 1966. BMW had begun marketing their own small vehicles, the Isetta series, and it was just good business to buy out the competition. The picture below is such a machine, down to the same color as mine:
The little car had less power than the average riding lawn tractor of today, two people could pick up the front end and move it, it had two seats, a dip-stick to check the amount of gas in the tank and a speedometer which read to an optimistic 80 kilometers/hour. This could only have been achieved by dropping it off the Eiffel Tower but I loved it very much.
I had to wait to drive it on the road which took two weeks until I received my license but I had driven anything my family owned on our own grounds for at least two years, so that was no obstacle. My biggest problem was that my gas allowance was exactly 50 Schillings/week, about $ 2.- in US money then and this got me about 50 to 60 miles of driving joy per week. My school was too demanding to even think of any part time occupation so, mostly it was back to the KTM moped, the car being reserved for weekend outings with Waltrudis..
Now we return to the tug of war. My dad saw the Goggo and hated it on sight. It was "s..t green in his eyes, as a two stroke it smelled and belched exhaust (all true) but what rankled most was that the scions of some of his employees drover nicer, less offensive automobiles. Thus, he showed up one day with a beautiful eight year old Mercedes Benz 180, a spare company car, barely used and in storage for almost a year. This he bestowed upon me and I did not fight him too hard about it. Independence is great if you can afford it but you must also be a (greedy) realist some time. So, the Goggo went into the garage and eventually I gave it to my eldest step brother to the amusement of granddad and no end of chagrin to Herr Papa. The Benz became my cherished possession all through college. Here is a good picture:
So much for today - in the next installment I shall write about my first experiences as an aspiring journalist and the state of journalism and newspapers in post-war Austria.