During the war he’d collect bushels of rats, dead and alive, as the burgermeister would pay a good Mark for a solid bagful. Since the town was overrun by rats after the war this was a sehr gut business opportunity.
Now Opa, not one to pass up sehr gut business opportunities, was also a cunning and inventive klein scheisse. For example in the days after the war, when his mother insisted he go to church he and his brother Erwin would bid her guten tag, head up the street in their Sunday hosen, make a left turn at the bridge, scamper under the overpass, roll up their hosen and fish for brook trout in the creek. According to Opa they did this well, well into the morning and then at around the time church let out, he and Erwin would roll down their hosen and march back home. (As far as I know they got away with this for years, until the day his mother noticed Opa’s Sunday hosen was spackled in mud and knowing her son, and his ways, sighed and said: “Gerhard Erich. Vy ist your hosen dis schmutzig?”)
So to get back to the rats … my Opa having discovered the dumpster in the alley in the village where the burgermeister was dumping the town’s rat findings, started loading up his satchel with dozens and dozens of dead rats – because remember the rules were a five-rat-count earned you one mark, or something like that, and since it didn’t much matter if the rats were delivered dead or alive Opa figured the plan was watertight. So for weeks he delivered black market rats to the burgermeister of Hildesheim, upon which was given proper payment and went on his way.
Now. I’m not sure if or how or when he got caught in the mittlere of this rat scheme but when I have lunch with him this afternoon I’ll be sure to ask. As with all stories from the Opa Vault I draw blanks from time to time and if there’s one thing Opa is sehr gut at, it’s filling in the blanks on very old stories. Especially from Hildesheim.