Inspired by her father’s historical recount and stories shared with her during her youth, The Road We Took: Four Days in Germany 1933 is the epic tale of an American Boy Scout who discovers by coincidence four desperate Jewish citizens attempting to escape Nazi Germany.
September 2nd, 1933
Mr. Darcy: Hello Buster! My name is Mr. Darcy, I work for the US Federal Government, Customs Division, and I will conduct your interview today. You’ll have to tell me even before we begin, I see by your passport Buster is not your real birth name. How did you come by that name? And, how old are you?
Buster: Buster is a nickname given to me by my mom, after the barber gave me a Buster Brown haircut. You know, the image of the boy used in advertising to sell shoes? His haircut reminds me of someone putting a bowl over his head and trimming what exceeded the rim of the bowl! And indeed, I had a haircut like that once, at age 3. My father howled with laughter when he saw it. At that point, he started calling me “Buster” and it stuck. My legal given name is Raymond Davis Wellington III. You can see why Buster is so much easier! My age, I just turned 17 three days ago.
Mr. Darcy: As you know, I’m a Customs Agent, and it is my job to interview passengers of the SS Bremen returning from Europe, especially Germany. Our government is interested in what you saw while traveling through. It’s my understanding you spent four days in Germany, is that correct? Can you tell me why you were there to begin with?
Buster: Six weeks ago, my Boy Scout Troop #814 from Rochester, New York began our journey through Europe with our destination being Godollo, Hungary. We were travelling there to attend the 4th Boy Scout World Jamboree. We camped in the Royal Forest on the grounds of the Hungarian Monarch’s estate for two glorious weeks. We camped, fished, played soccer against a number of foreign teams. Thanks to Wolfie, we won all of our matches. He’s a brilliant player. A natural for the sport. Wolfie was one of the best parts of the journey, finding him in Vienna while we were on our way to Godollo. After the conclusion of the Jamboree, we headed to Germany. The port of Bremen to be exact, where our ship docked, our ship back to the US.
Mr. Darcy: Can you tell me more detail about what you witnessed while in Munich?
Buster: Mr. Darcy, no disrespect meant, but there is only one way to describe what happened in Munich.
Mr. Darcy: Go on.
Buster: All hell broke loose. To begin with, after the jamboree, our plan was to first return Wolfie to Munich, his father would be waiting for him. However, when we arrived, that wasn’t the only thing waiting for him. Then to make matters worse, there was a huge parade taking place right in front of our hotel. There were tanks and trucks and thousands of foot soldiers marching.
Mr. Darcy: This is what is of particular interest to me, the parade. Tell me about the troops. According to The Treaty of Versailles, Germany could not re-arm but apparently, the treaty was of no effect. There is one force behind this-Can you tell me who led this armament, who was behind this parade and show of force?
Buster: That’s easy-Hitler and the Nazis. The troops, the number was astounding. And the way they marched, I believe they call it, “goose-stepping”. With thousands and thousands of troops marching like this, their boot heels hitting the pavement in synchronicity, it sounded like a canon going off with each step. And there were hundreds of tanks, and trucks. My father told me, “It was as if the treaty of Versailles never existed.” On top of this show of force, there were Nazi Youth, thousands of them, all marching the same way.
Mr. Darcy: Tell me about the citizens, what was the reaction? Also, this boy Wolfie, was he a German boy?
Buster: Every building hung a Nazi banner, you know, the swastika, and the people lining the streets all had armbands and held flags of the Nazi symbol. It was like they were all in a trance, cheering and shouting in approval, smiling and chanting. Even small children! Like they were drugged. Wolfie was supposed to join the Hitler Youth, it was the law. All boys of a certain age had to quit other groups and join. But he didn’t.
Mr. Darcy: Why not?
Buster: Well, he wanted to remain in the Boy Scouts to attend the Jamboree even though it was forbidden.
Mr. Darcy: We have information that states anyone in opposition to the Nazis, any kind of objector or political adversary, anyone that is Jewish would face severe treatment, even death, did you witness this?
Buster: Oh, yes, yes indeed. It’s difficult for me to discuss. My father can speak of that in detail, you know he works for The State Department as Counsel, right?
Mr. Darcy: Yes, of course we do. Can you tell me one last thing about your journey, sum it all up?
Buster: To begin with, I feel like my eyes have been opened to a hatred I never knew existed. I guess you could say I’ve led a sheltered life up till this point. I’ve never seen brutality such as the kind I witnessed, and not just one incident. It was happening all over Germany, and my father told me about the instances, the events we didn’t see. To think that a man can dictate who can live and who can’t. That a person would have such hatred for Jewish people, the infirmed, anyone that didn’t match the German image and identity astounds me. I can’t understand it.
Aren’t we all just people, with the same thing running through our veins? This trip made me aware of so many things and I’ve undergone a change as a result. I will now watch out for the younger scouts in my troop, making sure they never have to go through what Ricky and Walter went through. Such life changing abuse. And then, there’s Maddie. Beautiful, gifted Maddie. Because of her, I will never judge a person based on their background, their religion, or any kind of disability. I’ve learned the Nazis murder people that aren’t like them. They want to take over the world and spread their poison throughout the world as we know it. We cannot let that spread or our world as we know it will be destroyed.
Mr. Darcy: Wise words, Buster. This concludes our interview. Your father is next. Thank you.
Cathy has spent over 40 years as a professional chef after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She was the first female Executive Chef for the Servico Corporation, where she served The Philadelphia Eagles, The Philadelphia Flyers and The Philadelphia 76’ers. Over the course of her career, Cathy capitalized her creative talents as a restaurant owner and partner, conceptualizing and creating brands for three successful startup businesses, Food Works, in Pittsford, New York, The Bagel Bin in Penfield, New York, and The Nick of Thyme in Brentwood, Tennessee. It was at the Nick of Thyme that Cathy developed long standing relationships within the music industry. Her clients included Donna Summer Sudano, Naomi Judd, Wynonna Judd, numerous Christian and country music artists, world-renowned wine collectors Billy Ray Hearn and Tom Black. After the sale of her business, Cathy cooked for and traveled extensively to movie locations with actress and activist Ashley Judd and her husband, three-time Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti. She continues to cook privately for exclusive clients and friends.
When she is not working as a professional chef, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking for her family and special friends, taking photos of nature and food, gardening, watching open wheel racing, watching movie classics from the golden age of cinema on TCM, and chasing her two cats, Princess Poopie Peanut Head and Tout Suite. The Road We Took is Cathy’s first novel and partially conceived from her father’s journal of daily writings and documentations along with the narratives and tales he told Cathy as a young girl. https://www.cathyalewis.com