Family life began again in Germany in a house confiscated from a Nazi official.
It came complete with a staff. My folks were to feed several families during the next few years.
The painting on the wall is of my oldest brother, John. It was one of two paintings of my brothers, John and Earl, painted by a German artist named Harry Hoffman in trade for food, Hershey Bars and I think, cigarettes.
Harry had no canvas, so my mother ordered some good cotton sheets for Harry to use as canvas. This enabled Harry to do other paintings and feed his family.
A story about Harry Hoffman:
In 1960, we were back in Germany. My brothers were grown and on their own so it was just me and the folks moving into base quarters.
My mother was visiting the neighbor in the apartment upstairs and was looking at paintings the neighbor had that were painted by a local German artist.
The signature was Harry Hoffman's.
Mum got the painting of John down and they compared the signatures...
sure enough, they matched.
The neighbor told my mother that Harry was coming by in a few days with a painting she had commissioned of her daughter, and would send him downstairs to see my mom.
When Harry showed up, the neighbor sent Harry down, suggesting that my mother might be interested is a painting. He came in and they chatted a little.
Mum asked him if he repaired paintings, as she had one that had been damaged in transit. He replied that he might be able to repair it and asked to see it. Mum pointed the painting of Earl.
Harry looked at the damage, discerning that he could repair it, but remarking that it seemed to be painted on a cotton sheeting, rather than canvas.
Recognition dawned when he saw his own signature.
Harry was dumbfounded... his eyes filled with tears and he sat down heavily.
He emotionally told my mother that he and his family wouldn't have survived those post war years without my parents help.
He said that he'd never been satisfied with the backgrounds since paint was in such short supply at the time that he had to do a little concocting. He had to save his precious oils for the portrait areas. Because of this, the backgrounds had faded and he would gratefully repair the small tear if he be allowed to finish them.
Mum thankfully agreed as long as he made no changes to the portraits, as they were perfect just as they were, but insisted that she would pay him.
Harry would hear none of that.
Military Life... It really is a small world.