If you find the text too small to read on this website, press the CTRL button and,
without taking your finger off, press the + button, which will enlarge the text.
Keep doing it until you have a comfortable reading size.
(Use the - button to reduce the size)

Today's quote:

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Notice anything?



No overweight people! This photo was taken in my (c)old hometown twenty-five years after the war. The years of starvation were over but it was still some time before the Golden Arches became omnipresent, and people still ate when they were hungry and not just out of boredom.

The building in the background housed the indoor pool. As pre-teen "Volksschüler" in the 1950s our teachers would take us there to teach us the art of survival in an alien element, commonly known as 'swimming', which culminated in a certificate from the Deutschen Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft (DLRG) to say that we had managed to cross the length of the pool without filling our lungs completely with chlorinated water. This entitled us to wear this "Freischwimmer" badge on our swimtrunks.



Those were the days of what I hereby claim to be the German invention of the extra-short "Dreiecksbadehose", popularised by an Australian prime minister as 'budgie smugglers' but satirised well before then by the American author P.J. O'Rourke with these words: "The larger the German body, the smaller the German bathing suit and the louder the German voice issuing German demands and German orders to everybody who doesn't speak German." As I grew older and began to hitchhike all over Europe and North Africa, I was always able to spot a German from miles away, long before I could even hear him, by his small "Badehose".



Not that all of us poor and underprivileged "Volksschüler" had the means to buy this then 'de rigueur' swimwear; some of us had a loose-fitting version stitched together by our mothers from leftover material, with one really poor one even showing up in - blessedly clean - underpants.

To get into the indoor pool, we received a metal token and a coloured elastic band. The metal token went into a meter which made the hot water flow and, after just a short few minutes, made it stop again, which wasn't surprising as few of us had the luxury of a bathroom at home and would've happily spent hours under those hot showers.

The coloured elastic had to be worn on the wrist to indicate when we entered the pool. A large "clock" hung over the pool which, instead of numerals, was divided into various colour zones, and as soon as the large hand ever so slowly entered "our" colour zone, we had to leave the pool and return to the change-room. All very orderly and very "German".

I've forgotten if there was the chance of a second shower on the way out. What I haven't forgotten is the day my mother stitched that highly coveted "Freischwimmer" badge onto my swim shorts which were short but never as short as the extra-short "Dreiecksbadehose" which to this day I have spurned to wear despite having voted Liberals all my life.


Googlemap Riverbend