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The BiergartenThis is a photograph taken in the spring of 1945, in Muchengladbach Germany by my father, Thomas E. Goonan.  He and the 610th, and ordnance company, advanced through France in a giant convoy of command cars and materiel following immediately behind troops mopping up the Battle of the Bulge. 

He and his friend John Wallace, who star in IN WAR TIMES as Sam and Wink, were billeted in an intact row of townhouses on Noiserstratten, which had a summer house in the courtyard behind the house.  Tom and John converted this space into a Biergarten after renovating the local phone system, providing it with a sound system for playing jazz records, beer and wine from local sources, a cooling system for the beer, and a bar from a local volkspark. 

IN WAR TIMES, which won the 2007 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year, is based on my father’s self-written memoirs.  The fictional characters, Sam and Wink, are engaged in building a “device” which will end war, based on the plans of a mysterious Hungarian physicist/MD who left the Manhattan project to work on a more positive alternative.

This is how they stocked their Biergarten:

We discovered that combat troops had liberated a winery nearby.  A couple of guys went over.  They had big horizontal storage tanks of wine.  When the combat troops got in there they liberated it with tremendous energy.  There weren’t many corkscrews around, so they just broke  the necks off the bottles and took their chances gulping it down.  They all got drunk and kept filling their broken bottles at the tap.  The last guy was too drunk to turn it off.  When we got to it the wine was a foot deep in a huge cellar.  We looked for kegs that hadn’t been opened and hauled out what we could recover.

 We sent a truck to Maastricht every week.  De Kroon brewery there made wonderful beer.  The deal was that we got to buy a liter per week for each guy in our organization as long as we had empty barrels to change for their full barrels.  We went around Gladbach liberating glasses and mugs, beer cooler and piping and those oh-so-precious barrels from bombed-out biergartens.  I estimate that we’re drawing close to 2800 liters per week for C Company.

For more information about IN WAR TIMES, go to www.goonan.com and click on the IN WAR TIMES links.

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