Not the ones behind closed lids, but those of what we will do and who we will be when we grow up. One of my sons maintained his conviction that he would be a vagabond someday, collecting coins from fountains and eating condiments from fast restaurants. Thank God that passed.
Irene writes in her memoirs of a decidedly World War 2 childhood experience that was the seed which gave blossom to her nursing career. The Forbidden Train Episode, I call it, though it could be another C is for Crazy Kids item.
My friend Brigitte and I occasionally went to the railroad station where much activity took place. Its two restaurants, numerous shops, and large waiting rooms were always full of people involved in the war. The Military Police often made raids in all those places and we could see people scrambling and running, trying to get out even through window. It was great luck that we were still children as adults had a very difficult life then.
One evening a Red Cross train pulled into the station. They usually came later in the night. All the shades were drawn and no one was allowed to open the doors to the train. Curious to see what was on the train, we told a lie.
“Our mothers work for the Red Cross. We’re supposed to meet them here.”
This statement got us on the train. We gasped when we saw the wounded men. Bloody bandages were everywhere. we saw men with no legs, others with one or both arms missing. One man with no legs was crying, his face reflected unbearable pain.
Brigitte and I left the train after seeing the men in one car. That was too much for us. We stood looking at each other and cried as we clutched our sweaters tight around our bodies. Speechless from the shock of seeing this extreme suffering of so many young men, we walked home in silence. From that day the idea slowly developed that I might someday be a nurse and help the suffering.
I can’t imagine seeing that as a child. Irene explained to me later that these trains came back from the eastern front of the war regularly through her hometown of Chemnitz, Germany. Knowing what happened to her father later in the war, I’ve often wondered if he might have been on such a train at one time.
Your next A to Z Blog Challenge post is…E is for Eating Cold War Style Behind the Iron Curtain.
Kristin King is an author, publisher, NGO co-founder with a heart for Africa, and a big fan of train travel.