Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ghost Tales from East Garrison

I recently heard a story about Fort Ord toward the end of WWII, when it was a POW camp and held, amongst its many other prisoners, Nazis. A group of them dug a 20-foot tunnel under the East Garrison trying to escape. Good old USA soldiers discovered their plan before they were able to execute it. Somehow, and I'm not clear about the details, which have been buried (no pun intended), a Nazi found some gasoline, poured it onto a soldier working under a tank, and lit him on fire. The military police made this prisoner dig his own grave, in the Whitcher cemetery, and executed him. I'm told he's buried out there with the Whitcher children, and who knows how many others.

Normally, I'd take this anecdote as a fairy tale, but when I told my ex-firefighter husband (who worked on base for years) about this story, he remembered it too. One character in my book, "East Garrison" is a Nazi U.S. Army Major General named Fritzsche. Another character, Jack Erslager, a wandering Vietnam veteran with post traumatic stress disorder, sees Fritzsche barking orders at him throughout the book. This appeared to me whilst writing "East Garrison". So, you can imagine when I learned about this particular POW…is this the ghost Fritzsche? Did I make a psychic connection? Or did I hear this story in the past and although my conscious mind forgot it, my unconscious mind stored it away for later use? I think that's how writers' minds work.

Frequently I dream of houses with rooms within rooms within rooms. That's my visual of a writer's mind. Or at least my mind.

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