Uncle Louie was one of those independent thinking kids that the teachers didn’t have a lot of faith in. If he wasn’t getting into trouble having fun, then he wasn’t applying himself to his schoolwork.
One day when he had completed his homework, he was showing it to his cousins on the way to school when a strong gust of wind took it from his hands and lifted it high into the air and over a barbed-wire barrier into an army camp–gone forever. No matter how much he explained what had happened, the teacher did not believe him.
However, he was a smart kid and very good with his hands, so the army loved him, but because of his nature (perhaps in addition to being independent he was loud, brash, and disobedient) his superiors didn’t much care for him. In fact, he found himself regularly being sent to the worst areas, meaning where the worst fighting was going on. He disappointed them all by surviving.
The army, however, as well as the government didn’t survive. Both were disbanded and he was sent to re-education camp (were his leaders executed?) where he stayed for over a year eating nothing but spinach. When they let him go he never ate spinach again. (If I ate nothing but chocolate for a year, I’m sure I wouldn’t develop an aversion for it. I would be dead.)
Within a year he was using both his mechanical skills and limited spare parts to help someone fix up an engine on a boat, and the success with his skills are what got him and his wife and two sons passage on the boat when it set out for the high seas. It was the first time he had ever been on the water and he said he spent two weeks being seasick before being picked up by a freighter.
Later we got a call from somewhere in Texas that he and his family would be put on a bus and sent to Oregon. I said it was a long way to Oregon and offered to pay to have them come by air, but they flatly refused to discuss it–maybe they didn’t have a runway–and the family showed up a couple of days later on a Greyhound bus.
Uncle Louie’s first comment off the bus was that they had told him they would be crossing the great American desert, but he was disappointed because his idea of a desert was the Sahara, nothing but sand dunes and nary a living thing in sight.
With what he saw he was sure it wouldn’t be too much of a challenge to find enough food to survive in the great American desert. And with what he had already been through, I didn’t doubt him at all.
He adapted very well to America.