Sunday, May 3, 2015


The following is an excerpt from my book "After The GIs - The Immigrant".
The time was in the mid to late 1940s in Post War Germany.


In the front hall, under the attic stairway, we stored dozens of bundles of kindling wood. When grandfather was not visiting, either mom or I chopped the collected twigs into kindling in the backyard. The bundles were tied with green, flexible fir boughs and schlepped upstairs to the front hall.
We soon learned that the piles of kindling provided an excellent place for rats to build nests.

Those grey varmints sure got aggressive when the bundles of kindling were moved and their nesting places were disturbed. I remember one particularly large joker bounded out of the woodpile and darted around the front hall. Mother went after him and clubbed him to death with the straw broom, but not before he ran up the walls in big semicircles. She sent me to fetch the dust pan, which was not a dainty one. I held the pan while she swept the dead rat onto it. The thing was as wide as the pan, and its entire tail hung over the edge of the pan. We politely pitched him out the window. He landed in front of the stables where Mr. Beier had a chance to contemplate its beauty. (Mr Beier was the landlord who refused to sell us milk for my twin sisters.)

The rats never diminished. Through holes in the wall they came down from the attic and elsewhere, they seemed to prefer our kindling stacks as nesting places. I venture to say, it was a bit warmer in our front hall than in the cold attic, and safer than in the stalls below where weasels and owls had a chance at them.

Mother did not fancy getting her fingers snatched by a rat when she removed a bundle of kindling. She thought it necessary, when the kindling pile began to dwindle and the rat con- centration intensified, to borrow a friend’s Ger- man Shepherd dog. We kept the dog in the front room for a week, and supplemented his diet of rats with fresh bowls of water. However, during the following summer, as the kindling pile be- gan to grow tall, oodles of rats once again built their nests under the attic stairway.
I don't remember ever having mice. I guess the rats ate them for dinner.

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