Travels Abroad, 1962-3, Chapter 8 – The Draft


I met Karen in Munich. And, I needed some income. I found a job in a “baustelle” (building under construction), using “pickel und schaufle”. I was working with some Turks and an Austrian kid who was a Socialist. A good group of people. The horse-drawn beer wagon arrived everyday, and unloaded a case of beer to the “magazin” (lunch/tool room), where the “magaziner” (lunch/tool room attendant) would have a bucket of water warming on the wood stove in time for lunch. We would swirl our beer bottles around in the warm water in order to warm the beer. In Bavaria, one drinks one’s beer warm in the winter. We saw a similar custom in restaurants in Innsbruck, where your beer is accompanied by a hot water-filled sterling silver tube placed into the glass. Karen and I did one climb that fall, in the limestone Wilder Kaiser mountains  of Austria – the Totenkirchl (2190 m). This dramatic range is not far south of Munich. The climb was not hard, but we found ourselves doing a scary rappel on the descent, as night approached. We were very happy to arrive at the Stripsenjochhaus, the hut that sits right at the foot of the climb. Inside, it was warm and cheery, with a wonderful large heating oven adorned with glass bubbles on its exterior, to radiate heat outwards. And they had food and beer.

Totenkirchl, Wilder Kaiser, Austria

The Totenkirchl sits directly above the hut. The regular route wanders around on the face seen here, following the path of least resistance (postcard).

Back in Munich, Karen’s landlady would not allow me to stay the night, so I got into the habit of bivouacking in the nearby English Gardens. But trouble was now on the horizon. I had received an order to report for a pre-induction physical – i.e. the draft. I arranged to take the exam at the Army base in Mainz, where David’s brother-in-law was stationed. Now, I had to decide what I was going to do about it. First off, I knew without a doubt in my mind that I could not emotionally survive induction into the armed services. I hated the very idea of regimentation. Being drafted was, to me, the same as slavery. So I knew I would not go, but this left me with some unpleasant options I needed to choose amongst: go to jail, go to Canada, go to Israel or convince the Army that I was not suitable material. Over a period of weeks, I did considerable soul-searching on the topic – even reading Aristotle and other philosophers on the topic of “citizenship”. I came to the conclusion that, if I got a “1A” (suitable to serve), I would give up my citizenship, and become an Israeli. At the exam, which took place in December of 1962, I was first presented with a questionnaire. Without any hesitation, I checked “yes” to severe depressions, homosexual tendencies and drug use. This bought me a session with an Army shrink. I told him that I was convinced that I would go crazy during basic training and shoot my commanding officer the minute they put a gun in my hand. I was so sure of this, I said, that I would not allow myself to be put in this position, and was leaving for Israel the next day. If I got a “1A” I would then renounce my American citizenship and become (as a Jew) an Israeli citizen. So the decision was his. Fortunately for me, he was a kind individual and diagnosed me as “pre-psychotic” and, therefore, not fit for service (“FOUND NOT ACCEPTABLE FOR INDUCTION UNDER CURRENT STANDARDS”).  Whew!

STATEMENT OF ACCEPTABILITY

STATEMENT OF ACCEPTABILITY

David and I left Mainz the next day, heading south – he to Crete and me to Israel. We made a stop in Garmisch.

Garmisch Germany. Me, Sara Jean and David, Jan.63

Garmisch, Germany. Me, Sara Jean and David, Dec. 1962

We walked through Milano on a cold and dreary morning and continued to hitch-hike south. At Naples, we climbed over the fence to sleep in Pompeii. We were bound for Brindisi, on the bootheel of Italy.

Hitch-hiking, Italy, Jan. 1962

Hitch-hiking, Italy, Jan. 1963

Hitch-hiking, Italy, Jan. 1962

Hitch-hiking, Italy, Jan. 1963

In Brindisi we bought deck class passage on a ferry to Athens. No photos are available for that trip.

Youth hostel in Athens, Jan. 1962

Me, youth hostel in Athens, Jan. 1963

The Parthenon, Athens, Greece, Jan.1962

The Parthenon, Athens, Greece, Jan.1963. Why was I traveling with a suit and button-down shirt?

The Parthenon, Athens, Greece, Jan.1962. This is one of David's earliest

The Parthenon, Athens, Greece, Jan.1963. This is one of David’s earliest “art pix”

We split up in Athens, and I continued to Haifa, Israel. Once in Israel, I was routed to  Kibbutz Lahav, which will be seen in the next chapter.

 

About believesteve

I am a photographer and have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1
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