February 2, 2016 By Fred Barthmus

Summer Visits

During the summer of 1943, I spent two weeks with my grandmother in the village of Nimesch in Romania.

As a city kid, I had to learn a lot from my country cousins – how to catch frogs in the village creek, how to lay traps for birds, but also how to rake hay. The fun sports were jumping off the rafters in the barns into hay piles down below, and a daily distance running competition from the church along the right side of the creek, and returning on the left side to the starting point.

It had been a great vacation, because my grandmother used to spoil me with delicious fresh fruit, freshly baked pastries and the best dark bread with a hard crust, baked in her outdoor wood-fired baking oven. At the end of the two-week stay I was to return home to Mediasch with my father’s sister, Aunt Hanni. Since she was scheduled to go to town, she had promised my parents that I could ride with their horse and carriage to meet my father in town.

My vacation was about to take an unexpected turn.

The horse pulling the carriage was a beautiful black stallion. When the gate opened, it started to race out of the courtyard into the street. He galloped faster and faster, while the maid joined me for this excursion frantically tried to slow it down. With dizzying speed, the carriage hit a telephone pole on the right side of the road.  The impact threw me forward – head first- under the hooves of the galloping horse.

As the hoof came up, it hit my forehead and I saw stars. The buggy rolled over me, but the deep dust on the road (no asphalt here!) prevented any additional injuries. The maid was finally able to slow and stop the horse. When my aunt came back to pick me up from the dusty road, my blood and tears mixed with the dust frightened her terribly, and she started to cry and yell for help.

We rode with another horse and buggy the six miles to the town doctor. He stitched the skin on my forehead back together and bandaged my head. My mother almost fainted when she heard the story.

Whenever I saw Aunt Hanni again, she would examine the scar on my forehead and tell me how sorry she was that we had that accident. For years I had the scar of that stallion’s hoof on my forehead.


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