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The switch

Like most guys, my memories of 1943 to 1945 have faded into the haze of old age. One event, though, still flits through my mind every now and then because it was so humorous, and we didn’t have many humorous moments back then.

It was the spring of 1945, and we were somewhere in Germany in some small town that had taken a real beating. We had moved in at dusk and my squad was billeted in a small house that, like the rest of the town, was mostly in shambles. There was a front entrance with a missing door that led into a hall, and off to the right we found a room that, surprisingly, was still fairly intact -- it had four walls and a ceiling.

We dropped our gear and plopped down around our GI lamp – a C-ration can, sand and gas – that helped illuminated our grim but secure surroundings. Soon we heard noises outside, which we figured marked the arrival of the 69th, a new division just in from the States that was scheduled to replace us on the line.

As we sat there huddled around our makeshift campfire shooting the bull, we heard footsteps in the hall and then watched the door to our room open, in the dim light, we saw a brand new GI in a nice, clean, pressed uniform. He looked at us for a moment, and then reached out to the light switch that was mounted on the wall next to the door and flicked it up and down a couple of times.

“Hey, the lights don’t work,” he said. Nobody said a word. Realizing what he had just done, he slowly backed out of the room and quietly shut the door. I’m sure he heard us explode in laughter as he left.

For days after that, all anyone had to do was flick a finger up and down and the whole squad would break up. To the GI’s credit, it was dark and he was probably a little scared, so maybe he hadn’t noticed the condition of our house or of the rubble-strewn streets that surrounded us. For us though, it was a welcomed bit of levity that helped carry us through many days after.

Lewis Roosa

204 Pheasant Run Dr.

Paoli PA 19301

Last modified Oct. 21, 2010

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