13 Oct, 2010 | Posted by: photosource

My Story


Note from Rohn: This is the final chapter of “Europe” the first book of my trilogy, a memoir of my trip through Europe, Africa, and North and Central America.
All of the previous chapters are located in the Stories archive section of PhotoStockNOTES.

The second book coming up is called Africa in which I relate how, with the brilliantly resourceful help of my friend, Rudi Thurau, I was able to survive what time, nature, people, luck, and the elements threw at us as we visited the enigmatic Moroccan cities of Tangier, Casablanca, Adrar, Marrakech, Fez, and Oujda; lived with Bedouins of the Atlas Mountains; visited the Roman remains of Volubilis; (yes, Roman archeological remains over in the west side of North Africa, near the Atlantic Ocean,) and then crossed the border into the Algerian War, and passed through the rebel fighting with the French Foreign Legion; came down with hepatitis in the central Sahara desert village of Adrar, got to our Niger riverside destination of Niamey in Black Africa by hopping a ride with an Arab trucker; built a raft from palm logs and 50-gallom oil drums from the Niamey airport warehouse, sailed down the Niger River where I fell while climbing a cliff to film some monkeys, broke my arm and landed back in the hospital in Niamey and flew home to Maryland on Christmas eve, 1957 on the $500 the airport manager lent me.

I look forward to sharing all this with you in my Africa book. I ask your forbearance for a little while. Probably two months.

Unfortunately I have the task of restoring some of the rain-damaged manuscript and daily log that I wrote about my Africa trip back in 1960... Fortunately my negatives were back with my German friend, Hans Bartsch in Wuerzburg, Germany. The photos are all intact. I’ll share with you a few of them in this chapter 39, and finally, next week, chapter #40, I’ll show you (through photos) a preview of what’s to come in our adventures in Africa for the next section of my trilogy called Africa. And, oh yes, as you remember, in Portugal we bought an 8mm movie camera. I’ll being airing that 1957 film of how we crossed the Sahara and built our raft on the Niger River. - RE

 rohn and rudi by there motor scooter
Click on the photo to enlarge


logbook diary, leaving for gibralter
Click on the photo to enlarge


rohn sing and rudi sitting watching
Click on the photo to enlarge


Click on the photo to enlarge


Rudi and I had learned that one of the keys to being able to survive
on this world tour was to earn our way by presenting a short program on a radio station. But what we didn’t know was that we had been lucky so far. I mean, we had always been paid for our performance, but there was no universal law that said we had to be paid.
In Gibraltar
it was easy to find a radio station. Most of them were in English, being Gibraltar and all. I listened when I heard a radio playing somewhere for the radio call numbers and wrote down several of them. I asked a passerby where the station was located. We found a station nearby and spoke with the director about the proposed program we had in mind. We performed a few examples of the English folksongs we would sing, and gave him an idea of the storyline we could air for them. This was new for us since I could speak English to the audience. This would be a piece of cake.

But there was something involved I didn’t anticipate. In the past, in Portugal, Spain, and France, the language barrier was actually to our advantage. Radio program directors found interviewing a foreigner like us was out of the ordinary. This was fresh and different for their audience. But for an English-speaking audience, our story was ho-hum. Plenty of unique travelers come through Gibraltar. “So what else is new?” was the expression I read on the face of the radio station manager. This is all hindsight. In Gibraltar I learned my lesson. You gotta have the right angle.
“Sounds very entertaining fellows, but just one thing – if you’re expecting any reimbursement for your program, I’m sorry to say we won’t be able to give it to you.”
We struck out.
Rudi has the superstition that good and bad things always happen in threes. This day’s events sure did follow his prediction. We decided to make the program anyways at this radio station; it would be good experience and good practice for us; but we decided that the next time we went to a radio station, we would make the program first, and then inquire afterwards about payment. The directors would be less hesitant not to pay for our services.

That afternoon we stopped in at an outdoor café. As we were sitting in the late afternoon sun, we met two American fellows who had heard our radio program. They were stationed in France with the U.S. army. They were on two weeks vacation and were interested in talking with us about our trip.
“Gosh. That’s one thing I’ve always wanted to do” one of the fellows from Kansas, said. His name was Edgar Tilly.
“Me, too!” Roger Morse said, a fellow from Milwaukee. “But I got a gal back home, and I know she wouldn’t want to hear of it.”
“My girl didn’t want to hear of it either,” Rudi said, “But seeing the world trip was more important to me, I took off anyway. You’ll always be able to find a girl, but you’re only young once!”
Well, that was the first I heard that Rudi had a girl back home. You’d think he would’ve mentioned her. Or showed me a picture that he carried with him. He never got any mail from any girls that I know of. That was a curious thing about Rudi. He guarded his private life and his private thoughts. He didn’t open up. At least not so far.
If the trip ended here in Gibraltar and someone back home asked me, “Well, what was Rudi like?” I wouldn’t be able to answer them. If they asked, “Was he easy to get along with?” I would be able to answer that question. I would simply say, “Yes.”
But descriptions of people take more that one sentence. It was a paradox. Here I had been with Rudi since last May 1957 after I got my discharge from the army. I still didn’t know him. And now it was July. It seemed the longer I was with him, the less I seemed to know much about him other than what I first learned when we met in Rotterdam. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to let me in; it’s just that I didn’t care to knock on the door and ask to come in.

I think a lot of marriages are that way. People get together and get married because they find someone who they need to compliment a certain part of their life that is missing, so it feels good that they found them and they get together, and they get married and live a long time together and have children, and they fulfill what they were missing in their lives and then when it’s fulfilled after ten or twenty years, they forget what it was that they were missing. But they’re left with children and a mortgage and memories of the struggle to keep everything glued together. Their lives become a chore of everyday existence, coping with what happened today and anticipating what’s going to happen tomorrow. You can see it on their faces. When I think back of the people we met on the trip this far, I see the same pattern whether it’s the gypsies in Portugal or the husbands and wives on French farms. I wondered if I would see the same pattern with the Arabs in North Africa or the families in black Africa.

Want to read more?


No comments yet. You can be the first!

Leave comment

This item is closed, it's not possible to add new comments to it or to vote on it