I drank Zubrowka vodka on my first visit to Poland . Michal B. bought two bottles , explained what the reed of grass was doing in the bottle , how the grass was delicious to the buffalo .
What buffalo ? Buffalo in Poland ? Sure . I was photographing some donated straight razors at the Gilb Museum and describing them , noting some rust on the metal near where the steel is connected to the bone handle , reading the manufacturers mark . The thing was manufactured in Billings , Montana in 1909 . The blade was made in Germany . German steel , it was , sharpened and highly tempered .
The Schlieffen Plan was already being honed , too , in 1909 . Kaiser Wilhelm had asked Count Schlieffen to develop a plan for a two-front war , against the Russian empire and France . By 19o5 a plan was devised to quickly invade France through neutral Belgium and Luxembourg and to capture Paris before the lumbering Russia could mobilize .
Watch out for German steel ; it must be handled carefully .
Just over 10,000 people lived in Billings in 1909 . Forty -three million soldiers fought World War One . And then , there was the next one , of course . Lots of broken razors that could not be exchanged .
And , you don’t think we’re fighting World War III now . Drones are sent wherever the terrorists hide . It’s called , not the Great War , but the War on Terror ; not the War to end all Wars , but another war , perhaps , to save democracy .
All the quiet George Orwells are , no doubt , busy scribbling —- tapping , I should say ; the world has changed since 1984 . Hasn’t it ? But we’re filling up with disillusioned Larry Darrells , I think [ watch one of the Razor’s Edge movies ] searching for meaning . What’s the matter with you , Larry ? [ get your device out and read the book ] .
Meanwhile , of course too , the Kaisers and Schlieffens are planning the next victories . Sorry for the little Belgiums , but there are no neutrals when the blades , ” ground extremely thin ” , cut .
I wonder how many have accidently cut their own throats with a straight razor ?
And for Larry’s friends , all of us , life is jazzy , until it all crashes .
O.K. Michal B. and I drank the two bottles of Zubrowka . They were small bottles . He , a sailor , was showing me the Szczecin harbor , Ada’s home city . It was all bombed out during the war , my new friend told me . ” By the Germans”, I said , and Michal looked at me funny . No , not by the Germans . By the British and the Americans . Szczecin was Stettin in pre-WWII days , a German city . There was a Hitler Platz , down by the train station . I saw it on an old map after I began to learn something about the place . I remember Michal B.’s astonished look , though , when I said ” By the Germans “.
Live and learn , man , live and learn .