National Geographic : 1962 Jun
typical of his fellow citizens; if I stood on a street corner looking at a map, someone in variably stopped to help. If I took out a dic tionary in a restaurant, a fellow diner would offer to translate the menu. We left Cologne feeling very happy about its friendliness. Throughout Germany this feeling continued. The weather was a different matter. We drove up the Rhine on a foggy day, and foggy it remained during most of our trip. There were, of course, days when the fog was washed away by downpours of rain. And there were a few sunny periods when Tom photographed the magnificent Rhine scenery. However, the valley of the Rhine is no place to acquire a suntan in springtime. It was raining, in fact, when we drove into Remagen, a small town which gained fame on an earlier gray and miserable day-March 7, 1945, to be exact. That day American GI's seized the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen and became the first invaders since the days of Napoleon to cross the Rhine. Although the bridge collapsed ten days after it was 746 captured, it allowed the Allies to establish a permanent bridgehead. It was hard, sitting in a comfortable res taurant and looking out at the blackened ruin of the bridge tower, to realize its importance. Tom and I were discussing it when a couple of youngsters appeared beside our table, one holding a bunch of wild flowers and the other a collection box. I decided that ignorance of German was our best defense. "Ich spreche nicht Deutsch," I said, and turned back to Tom. "Then you speak English," said the blond er of the two, "and so do I. I am English and this is my German cousin and I am here visit ing him and his mother is sick and he wants to buy her a present and we have picked these flowers and we are selling them for 20 pfen nigs a bunch so he can get money to buy the present for his mother and will you please buy some, please." It was obvious that American luck in Re magen had all been used up back in 1945, so we bought the flowers.