to the home page of Joe Desloge, Jr., author of Passport to Manhood, an
autobiography of an unpretentious St. Louis kid from a prominent Missouri
family. The book reveals his transition from an enfant
terrible growing up during the Depression to a sensitive care
giver in World War II. As
a front line ambulance driver, Desloge loaded the wounded and buried the
dead of the British 8th Army and the French Foreign Legion in North Africa
and Italy. In lively vignettes, Desloge brings his war years to life, mixing
humor with horror and poignancy.
On 3 May, 1992, for the first
time, I left an interesting movie before it ended. In the movie A Midnight
Clear a squad of war weary Germans is trying to surrender during the
Christmas season of 1944. I left after the soldiers sang Christmas carols
around a tree in the forest with potatoes and hand grenades for ornaments.
The audience knew the old Jerry and the very young Jerry would never successfully
surrender. I left because it was much too close to my own experience as
a 19 year old.
I recalled the officer who bragged
of shooting prisoners one by one because his men didn't want to obey his
order to kill them. The fighting was heavy and the Americans couldn't be
bothered with prisoners.
It also reminded me of the 16
exhausted Jerries I captured. All they said was
"Kamrad" and "Deutchland Kaputt" and the only things
they lost were a cheap watch and a ruksack--now in my attic. Even the feared
buddy they'd killed just an hour earlier, and whose rifle I'd "borrowed"
to make the capture, bore no grudge. "
Joseph Desloge, Jr.
Post war years are vividly related in accounts of
mining explorations and repeated travels to Latin
America, where Desloge responded to the "kind,
gentle people in the back country that tourists don't see." These meetings
inspired him to create a foundation for supporting their efforts in family planning to address
what Desloge sees as the major problem facing society: "No matter what
your cause, it's a lost cause if we don't come to grips with overpopulation."
This is an enjoyable book both for its candor and its ability to capture
scenes for a simpler life we all miss in passing moments.
Copyright © 1998, Joseph Desloge Jr.
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last modified 9/3/98