A little bit of history here needs to clarify things. As we were stationed in Baumholder, we were close to the German/French border. One of the most industrial parts of Germany was the Saar Valley in Alsace Lorraine. After World War II, that part of Germany was given to France politically, but remained German economically. The place has a long history of going back and forth between France and Germany. Border lines were established after World War Two..
So let’s see how this works. During most of my time in Germany, it was really in France. The U.S. Army had no jurisdiction in the place. M.P.s was not permitted to enter the area. However, guess what, American soldiers were permitted to go there to drink and carouse. We certainly did do that. Our favorite town was Neunkirchen and our favorite bar/gasthaus was Analeisa’s. When I visited Neunkirchen years later, there was no more Analeisa’s, it had become a Ford leasing agency.
We usually mingled with the locals there. Since I was able to communicate with the Germans reasonable well, sometimes I was called upon to settle some conflicts. However, there was one time, when I was the conflict myself. There were always locals there playing chess (choch, I think). We used to watch them and bought beer all around when the game ended. Other than that we would sit around and drink beer (coke mostly for me) and schnitzel sandwiches with mustard. It was a no sweat place.
One evening we came into the gasthaus and there were a number of chess games going on. One of the locals asked me if I played chess. I told him that I had when I was younger. He got kind of mean and let out a challenge for me to play against their best player. I, of course, declined. However, things started to ramp up. Loud voices on both sides seem to insist that I play. To avoid a conflict, I sat down. I must tell you, that even today, I am not a good chess player.
However, on that day, I must have gotten messages from some long ago chess master, because I whipped the guy good. I don’t remember any of the moves, but in the end it was checkmate.
This did not sit well with the locals. I am not sure what they thought. Perhaps, they thought that I was a ringer. They started to shout and to push some of our guys around. Analeisa came out and yelled that we should take our disagreement outside. We did and it was a free for all. I don’t remember much of it,but I do remember something that may have saved my life.
I did have a really bad temper. Thank goodness, my wife Carol, has taught me to be a much calmer person. At some point during the fray, I was sitting atop one of the German guys and pounding his head on the paved street. Somehow, one of our guys, and I don’t remember who, pulled me off and dragged me to the car that we came in. I did see the poundee get up and walk away.
I am not sure that I ever went back to Analeisa’s. I guess I was just too afraid that I would be tempted to do some damage. I spent more time going on trips around Europe and staying around the base and going into Baumholder the town. I guess it was a lesson that I learned.