Saturday Story

There seems to be a lot of people calling other people “Nazi’s” lately. I wish I could explain to them what real Nazi’s were like. Too bad they couldn’t have met Geraldo.

Geraldo was Frenchman who, along with his wife of many many years, ran an Italian restaurant in Kailua. He was always impeccably dressed, coat and tie. Whatever jacket he wore, there was always a small pin on the lapel. What few people knew, and that lapel pin indicated, Geraldo held most the highest military medals and honors the French government could bestow on a member of the WWII Resistance, including the “Croix de guerre”. The pin indicated an honor so grave, that “all men should stand” when the recipient enters the room.

He had come to Hawaii during the 50’s when his daughter had gotten married here. He and his wife just stayed.

He had also become a United States citizen and had sponsored a man into the United States and brought him to Hawaii.

This man’s name I never knew. He owned a run-down second hand book store on South King Street. The bookstore was the ground floor, the living quarters were the second floor, and the whole thing was one big old wood structure.

The store was dark, shelves lined 2, 3 or 4 books deep, very little lighting and lots of cats. There seemed to always be a cat on his lap as he sat by the front door. He wouldn’t talk much, no more than it took to tell you how much the book cost.

He was an Auschwitz survivor, one of the most infamous “death camps” the real Nazi’s used. He always wore long sleeved shirts because he bore the Nazi, SS applied, tattoo on his left forearm. His camp identification number. He was the 1st person Geraldo had met and freed when they had taken the camp. They became lifetime friends.

One night the book store burned to the ground, very, very quickly. An old wooden building, full of old books and papers and who knows how bad or old the electrical wiring was; all in all a very bad accident. The “resident” never got out. I‘ve always felt better thinking it was an accident and not the end of a man who had seen too much pain for any lifetime.

These men could have told us what “real Nazi’s” were like.

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