|Beyond his childhood and apprenticeship in the sheet metal trade, a 17-year-old Grandpa decided to see the world. Leaving Germany, Grandpa turned toward the ocean - working on freighters traveling to South America, China and the Caribbean. In later years he often told us of his exploits - experiences working on the freighter, on a banana boat, and about owning a pet monkey while at sea.
On one occasion, Grandpa and a buddy were in at a bar in Marseilles, France, when someone gave him a drugged drink. When Grandpa awakened he was on a ship heading for Algeria, North Africa ... his destination: the French Foreign Legion.
Life in the French Foreign Legion at that time was horrifying. I do not know how long he was in the Foreign Legion, but Grandpa and several other men had apparently had just about enough, and one night managed to escape. The Foreign Legion troops on horseback went looking for them in the desert with guns and knives. Some of the escapees were captured or were killed, but Grandpa and a few others managed to get away. Eventually, they found their way (by foot) to a coastal town. Grandpa located a German ship at port, told his story, and was able to secure employment on the ship - eventually returning safely to Germany .
1916 - Frank Fischer at 22 - Studio picture