Serious Athletics, Bars, Comedy & Family Devotion
Germany: Not Published, 1955. Manuscript. Not Bound. Very Good. Item #027662
Collection of 60 + letters, usually 4-6 pages each. The letters sent from various locations in Germany by Horace J. "Hoddy" Mahon (1932 - 2011) to his future wife Rosemary Heaney in Newark, New Jersey. The earliest letters recount Mahon's daily routines while stationed in Germany in the U.S. Army 529th F.A. Battalion. Later, he is in the HQ. & HQ. Co. V Corps and his military career becomes entwined with his basketball career, detailed here; game travels to Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Fulda, Grafenwohl and elsewhere. The letters always relate his devotion & commitment to the relationship with his girlfriend, their gradually solidifying plans for marriage and the future. Since he has access to European goods, the plans include purchases of - furniture, clothing, cameras, and other items then available in Germany. Mahon is a devout Catholic and attends mass & other services very regularly. The letters also enquire of friends and relations and local news, especially of favorite New Jersey sports team; and always, his deep homesickness - and palpable boredom.The writer's passion comes out in recounting stories of his playing career in the army and road travel. The chronology details his progress from selection as a possible team member, to becoming an honored championship elite. He reports humbly on his playing efforts and has low expectations for himself - and his evident talent and playing ability eventually placed him in the first string squad of the V Corp All Europe Basketball Team. He recalls the original recruitment of players, being whittled down through various cuts and the challenges faced along the way - coaching decisions, injuries and rigorous playing & training schedules juggled with his Army responsibilities; he's opinionated & truthful in his game reportage: Jan. 1956 "…Last night we played and finally got back on the win column. The score was 81-56. The whole team looked better and I had my best game since playing with the Corp team…24 pts and I must have had about 15 assists…" "…was in the gym office all morning heating my ankle under the heat lamp. While I was in there Colonel Johnson asked me what I thought was wrong with the team…he asked me to come over the gym in the afternoon and talk to him….we sat talking for about an hour and a half - He asked for my opinion & I told him exactly what I thought. Within a week something will happen I think…whatever happens, it benefits the team because I'm tired of seeing us lose to teams we should beat…" Feb. 1956 "…Last night we played our first league game and came out on top by more than 10pts. We looked pretty sloppy for most of the game but every once in awhile we would look good. Eventually we ought to start playing better together. I played a little more than a half and scored about 17 pts. We play the same team again tonight…" (in Hanau) Outside of basketball, other reportage: Oct. 1955, on the German women "…it's impossible for a G.I. to avoid them unless he stays right in the barracks. As soon as they see a soldier dollar signs begin to register in their heads…I have never touched one of them except when we were in town last night. The touch I mean isn't what you might be thinking. I'll tell you the story, you probably won't approve of it but it was pretty funny. We didn't know exactly where to get pizza but we knew the name of a place so we asked this girl if she knew where it was. She doesn't just want to tell us where it is she wants to show us. She acted a little odd but not enough that you would notice it right off. She takes us about a half mile to the place so, we ask her if she wants to come in with us and have something to eat. We figured we owed it to her. While we're in there she puts the salt shaker in her purse and the waitress notices that it's gone so she wants to know where it is. The girl starts talking in German but we thought she said J.B. took it so we told the waitress she had it in her purse. The girl got embarrassed then gave it back. We got a big laugh out of it. When we left she wanted me to take her home and latched onto my arm like I was her meal ticket for the next month. We couldn't get rid of her so we stopped by a statue that had water coming from it into a little trough about 3 ft. deep. She's still hanging on to me so I said to J.B., "The only way to get rid of her is to hit her over the head or throw her in the water." At the time I was kidding but when we realized what it would be like we started laughing and decided to do it. She was wet up to her neck. We ran like hell and before we were a half a block from her - her and a cop are chasing our asses down the main street in Karlsruhe. The chased us for a half mile the cop on a bike her running…When we were eating she wanted to know our names so we wrote them down for her…she couldn't read English very well…Here's the names we gave...Lt. Hairy Swantz Lt. Howare Theyhanging Lt. Itchy Peters. So when the M.P.'s asked her if she knew our names she pulls this piece of paper out of her purse…The M.P. reads the names off…suppose you think it was a terrible thing to do and I agree with you but it was a spur of the moment idea & we really didn't stop to think about it. Maybe she'll stay away from G.I.'s now. That's the most excitement I've had in more than eight months…" Jan. 1956 "…After the boxing matches we went up to the E.M. club to play pinochle. It was free beer night and as usual a lot of guys were loaded. A fight broke out between a colored guy & a white one. The negro broke a glass and cut the other guy in the face about 10 times with it. Then one of the negro's friends got into it with someone who tried to break it up and he hit him in the face with a glass. The both white guys were really bleeding hard and then all the negroes there were trying to get into the fight. Before long more glasses and bottles were thrown and I had all I could do to cover up and get over in a corner so I wouldn't get hit. You really never know what the hell is going to happen over here. You take your life into your own hands when you get in a group where there are negroes and whites or germans & americans. I figure a guy is fortunate to get back home without getting cut up. After the fight we left…" Composed in a beautiful, legible writing hand, very competent and literate. Some wear and tear to the original mailing envelopes; the letters clean and in very good condition.