With nothing to do, pretending to be writing, I went to the opera every week; and I often walked around Vienna. It was part of my routine when my wife and I lived there in the early seventies and, with time on my hands, I frequented cafes where I held lengthy conversations with the people I met.
I remember one new-found friend, a happy-go-lucky fellow, who gave me insight about Vienna I otherwise wouldn’t have had. A comment or two from him provided impetus for my novel GOOD PEOPLE, which I’m rewriting now thanks to Matt Freese. (See previous blogs and comments). My new friend from Vienna was sad and cynical when he talked about his city’s participation in the Holocaust.
The image that has stuck with me was one of springtime, with potted flowers everywhere, and people everywhere (grandparents and parents) sitting at their windows watching the SS round up and arrest their neighbors. (“They were marched off and my grandparents did nothing,” or some other comment like that came from him.) My friend was happy to express how unhappy he was about that. The history was his, but he gladly gave it to me. I took it personally, and from that day until now I can see myself, like his grandparents, watching the SS drag my neighbors out of their homes, the point of my book. Bingo.
Then the time came for me to write about it. I had just read a book about ordinary people and their participation in the Holocaust. (Shit, I’ve forgotten the name and author of the book and can’t find it. Please, someone help.) And from getting from there to now only took a comment or two. Only a brief encounter with a stranger in a café got me started on a project that will take me a year or more to complete: the young man who talked sadly and felt sad for his grandparents, his parents, and his country. Some eight decades later I’m still working with the idea. I was amazed with him and am amazed still that I’m still hooked.
Enough for today, Randy Ford