...Continued from page 1

So we did the job and Heinz was surprised it took only an hour and we got to go off in high spirits, as if we were wearing straw boaters.

That evening, as I was comfortably listening to the original recording of 'Woodstock,' Heinz came in from his brother-in-law's and said he had invited us to dinner.

First the book, then the CD. Next - the movie?

We walked down the length of the former dike to a Stube where Kurt Wagner was very well-known as a football hero. I didn't understand German well then and it didn't matter because the lingua franca of Finkenwerder was and is Plattdeutsch, and you have to be born in Finkenwerder to understand the local version of it.

It was very warm, and soon we had very large, cool, beers. There was some ice-cold schnapps too; in fact there was schnapps with every beer and we had three of each before the pepper-steaks were ready.

I have had pepper-steaks since then; but they have all been pale fellows in comparison. What a dinner that was! Near the end I felt like an engine-room oiler going through Suez in midsummer on the dayshift.

The upshot of the dinner - passing the schnapps-test - and the result of the hour's dirt-pushing; was I got an offer to work at Kurt's engineering place - for about 85 percent more than I'd made on any job in Munich. It meant I wouldn't see the docks soon.

If I hadn't passed the drink-warm-Johnny-Walker-straightup test a few weeks later, I might have gone into engineering instead of the rotten newspaper business; but life plays its funny little tricks.

I haven't followed Kurt's engineering career too closely, but I think I heard he had something to do with the 1.5-litre plastic soda bottles you see everywhere these days. He was always coming back from Japan or Eastern Europe with great stuff to eat and drink and he shared it around a lot.

When he asked me to work on a book for him - a history of Finkenwerder - I couldn't refuse. Now that some of the drawings from the book are on the CD too; I'm only glad he didn't ask me to sing on it as well.

Kurt wrote a couple of the songs Kurt and Rite at Le Dome on it, and I think the name 'Harmonie' is taken from a whole line of Hamburg-Finkenwerder ferry boats; and also is the name of the group that sings on it - the 137 year-old 'singing-table,' Die Harmonie.

Kurt wrote this chorus:

"Damper fohren damper fohren
Jümmers wedder damper fohren
Müssen wi all de johrn"

In front of Le Dôme in Montparnasse, Kurt and Rita from 'Dream Island.'

Which makes sense, even if it is in Platt. One time, going over there on a Sunday, as the ferryboat was nearing the Finkenwerder landing, the head sailor called out to all the day-trippers on board, "Aussteigen, alle aussteigen. Finkenwerder, Traum-Insel."

Besides fish and smoked eel, and the apple orchards behind the dike road, Finkenwerder is also known as the location in Germany where part of the Airbus is assembled. Before Airbus cranked up, a Spanish charter pilot put a 707 on the runway there, mistakenly believing it was Hamburg's airport. He got it stopped on dry land with about a metre to spare.

They had to cannibalize the thing to get it off again. 'Traum-Insel - Isle of Dreams.'

All of this week's 'Events' are in the Noël Program feature.

Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 1.43 - 16. December 1996 featured the columns - Metropole Diary's 'Time Not Looking count-down eiffel at Paris is Lost Forever' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'One Big Unanswered Question and Miss France in 3-D.' The articles in the issue were 'Shopping' on the Rue Saint Honoré - Just a Short-Cut Between Windows and Food' - 'Standing Around Waiting for Food - Cash and Carry, No Shopping Carts, No Credit' and 'Not Everybody a Winner Contest - Best Christmas Window - Prizes are Few and Tiny.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week rounded off the issue.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 747 days left to go.

Regards, Ric
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