Mason City Globe-Gazette

Mason City, IA

29 Dec 1944





Gouger Runs When He Looks for Policeman

Iowa Daily Press Ware Corespondent

Athens, Greece (IDPA) -- A well dressed stranger about 50 years of age, spoke to me pleasantly while I was standing in front of a hotel. When I acknowledged the greeting, he conversed in excellent English. He had lived in the United States 15 years, admired the country, he loved Americans and was glad to welcome me in uniform to Greece, he said.

From that he led into discussion of buying articles and warned me to be alert for gougers, especially on jewelry. Now, if I wanted a ring, for example, he as my "friend" could get me a beauty worth many drachmas at unbelievable low cost. Mistaking my kindling suspicion for kindly interest, he furtively indicated for me to look into his half open right hand at his side.

There was a man's gold ring with 3 sparkling stones -- "diamonds" -- more for only $20 in American money. I was to believe he had stolen or got it through a "fence".

"Since you understand my language so clearly, you will get me clearly when when I say yours is an old trick in my country - the last time it was tried on me was in my home town of Des Moines, Iowa," I snapped.

While I looked for a military or Athens policeman the fellow galloped around the nearest corner.

"Are we at the right place?" one of the 2 GIs later asked me at the same spot.

I told them the name of the hotel.

One was Sgt. Alfred Borgman, Sioux Center, a tall, blond, rugged boy who had been inducted from am Iowa farm 19 months earlier. The parachute insignia on his left shirt front fired my curiosity.

"No, I am not a paratrooper," he smiled, "but in my job I did have to parachute into Greece."

Parachuting out of a plane is not so bad after you get into the air and the chute is letting you down gently but the jump is a bit trying, Borgman explained.

Earlier I had met Staff Sgt. Lawrence Gage, Des Moines, who spent most of his live in Estherville, and was in Athens as a member of fighter transport crew. He, too had been through thrilling experiences, which he merely smiled about. He wanted to talk about Iowa and job possibilities after the war.

Borgman said he was going back into farming as fast as he could when he got out of uniform.

Tech. Sgt. Hans Witschi, Iowa City, of an army weather detachment, was another interesting Hawkeye with whom I shook hands. His father, Dr. Emil Witschi, is an instructor of embryology at the State University.

Sgt. Guy Clark, Des Moines, an army weatherman, was on duty at the air field at El Adem in the Sahara desert, I heard when I was there.

In Athens I met a tall, handsome Kentucky corporal who confided he was going to marry a Waverly Iowa girl he had met in Connecticut.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, December 29, 1944

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