Thankful Strother's story of his life experiences is moving and profound. He does a remarkable job of bringing the reader into his world. While reading his stories, I felt like I was in the room with him and he was sharing the details of all of his adventures in the south and in Europe with me. I felt every emotion as I read the book. - Sydney LeBlanc
Thankful Strother is the main character inAlien in the Delta. He grew up on
welfare in the small southern segregated rural town of EudoraArkansas near theMississippi
River. He attended
elementary and high school In Eudora. His first part time job at age fourteen
was working for the local newspaper company (The Eudora Enterprise)
cleaning floors and washing windows. After graduating from high
school at age seventeen he took the entrance exam for the US Air Force and
failed it. Several months later after moving toDetroit, MI. to live with his sibling, he took the test and passed it. In
November of 1961 he went into the USA Air Force. Upon completing basic training
his goal was to follow in his brother’s foot steps and go toFrancebut he was sent to Germanyinstead and assigned to work in the
motor pool. He refused to learn to drive on purpose and failed his drivers test
because he did not want to be in the motor pool. Later he accepted his fate.
His first year in the motor pool he flipped a truck upside down nearly killing
a German lady pushing her baby in a stroller.
While his peers went to the bars and nightclubs having fun he
attended college at night. He would have plenty of adventures in the future to
talk and write about because he learned how to speak German and met his future
The Childis the first book in the three book Alien in the
Delta Series. It highlights the life of a boy from the age of six until he
graduates from high school at age seventeen. During that time he discovers
music, girls, sex, learns to dance, and becomes self-aware.
The Soldieris the second book in the series. Thankful
Strother spent four years in the United States Air Force. He was stationed in Germany where he learned to speak German, met
his future wife and traveled throughout Europe.
The Adultis the third book in the series. Thankful returns
home from Germany.
He settles in Detroit,
gets married, starts a family and buys their first house. He goes to work in
the automotive industry, learns to program computers, enters the corporate
world and becomes a successful real estate investor.
Grandfather (Papa) had what he described as horrible nightmares. When Papa was a young man, he killed a man and before being captured went on the run for seven years. The dead man’s ghost would come for Papa nightly. He must have relived that shooting hundreds of times in his dreams. Grandma would have to awaken him to stop his screaming.
The day Papa killed the man. Papa was inside his house when this man came to the front gate and called him to come outside. Papa must have expected trouble because he went to his front porch with a Colt .45 in his hand, and he asked the man to leave and not to come on his property. But the man wouldn't leave. In fact, he told Papa that he was going to come inside the yard and beat-up my grandfather. Papa warned him that if he opened that gate, he would shoot him. The man ignored Papa and opened the gate, and Papa proceeded to empty his gun into him.
Papa would then stand up and pretend he had a gun in his hand to show how he shot the man. That's when my grandma would say.
"John, why are you telling that child about that man you killed?"
My grandmother had lost her hearing, so she didn't know what Papa was talking about until he stood up and pretended he had a gun in his hand. Papa never told us who the man was or why he wanted to harm our family.
My German friends took me to a village called Roden, close to the city of Saarlouis. We would often go to this guesthouse named after the owner, Agnes. At first appearance it looked like any other guesthouse that we were used to visiting, except the young women waiting the tables were in their late twenties and early thirties. They were older than the other young women that worked in other guesthouses.
Normally, guesthouse seating had tables with four chairs and nothing else. Agnes’s guesthouse also had that type of seating in the daytime. The place was rearranged differently at night and especially on weekends. Two sliding walls were opened up to reveal what looked like living rooms. They had nice, soft couches and chairs with low tables in front. Candlelit lamps sat on end tables, and beautiful maroon drapes hung in front of the windows.
We went to Agnes’s place during the day most of the time, when beer cost less. At night the beer and other drinks would double in price.
Agnes, the owner, looked to be in her middle fifties, was about five feet six inches tall with dark, short hair, and was a little on the heavy side but not fat. When she spoke with you, her voice sounded confident and clear; even though she displayed a motherly type personality toward everyone, you knew that she was the boss.
Her husband Nickolaus was a small man about the same height as Agnes, and his hair was beginning to turn a little gray on the sides, which made him look older than his wife.
Their daughter, young Agnes, was five feet seven inches tall and in her late twenties. Her skin looked as if it was naturally tan all the time. She had a beautiful face with shoulder-length black hair, which complemented her slender figure. You would never guess that she had two children. Her husband Josef was a handsome man who looked about thirty. He was six feet tall with brown hair and a muscular build. He was very friendly and very jealous. When we went to Agnes’s guesthouse, I would speak German with her, and she would help me by correcting my German. Everyone working in the guesthouse helped me. They treated me like a family member.
Their home was in the same building as the guesthouse, with a kitchen on the first floor and their bedrooms on the second floor. I was invited to their home one Sunday morning to have breakfast with the whole family. I noticed that the young women who were waitresses also lived with Agnes. They joined us for breakfast. As we sat and had breakfast, Agnes asked me if I could bring them some liquor from the base. Nickolaus said that they would pay me ten times more than it cost me to purchase on base. I happily agreed to their terms.
I brought them liquor every time we visited their guesthouse. Liquor was rationed to servicemen monthly. My allocation was four bottles per month. This turned out to be quite a little profit-making enterprise for me. On Friday nights, Saturday nights, and Sunday afternoons, the guesthouse was always packed. The living room sections would be opened up to provide additional space for the mostly male customers. The waitresses would remain in the living room with their customers. The men bought expensive bottles of champagne, wine, and shots of liquor for the tables in the rooms. About every hour a male customer would leave the living room with his waitress and go upstairs. She would give him a tour of the bedrooms, and she ’wasn’t even a real-estate agent.
Agnes and family were the owners of a guesthouse that turned into a brothel at night and on weekends. At the same time, the young women waitresses would turn into prostitutes. You could make arrangements to have sex with them for a price. Prostitution was a legal business activity in Germany.
On Saturday and Sunday, it was very difficult to find a parking spot close to Agnes. Their backyard was used for VIP parking. The yard would be filled with expensive German vehicles. Several waitresses would be sitting in the living rooms next to their customers. Young Agnes would also be sitting with the executives. Her section was filled with the wealthiest executives; they bought the most expensive drinks.
On Sundays when we visited the guesthouse, young Agnes would ask me to take Josef (her husband) away for a while to Luxembourg because he was extremely jealous. He could not watch his wife sitting on the coach drinking with other men without saying something to the men. So Agnes paid me in US dollars many times to take him anyplace for several hours.
I almost never had to buy drinks in Agnes’s place, because usually the young waitresses and the owners would just bring drinks and leave them on my table. Drinks that had been purchased by the customer seated in their section
About every six months a new group of young women would come from other parts of Europe to work at Agnes’s place. Each one of them had a unique appearance or distinctive personality. While in Germany, I never though very much about Agnes’s guesthouse being a brothel. Now when I reflect back on the situation, it was an incredibleexperience I had as a nineteen year old, selling liquor to the owners of a whorehouse.
Are you wondering if I was ever paid in trade? I will never tell.
A short story from The Soldier -Alien in the Delta
An experience that stands out
in my mind happened in a German restaurant. We were young men from the United States, living in Europe
without a lot of exposure. Our knowledge of culture limited because we had not
seen or done many things before coming to Germany.
Bobby and I went to a German restaurant to eat dinner. We had gone there once before, and this time we brought our friend, Shorty with us. The hostess seated us and gave us the menus. While Shorty looked over the menu, Bobby and I had already decided what we wanted to order, so we placed our menus on the table. Noticing this, Shorty said that he would have whatever we were ordering.
This restaurant was very upscale. Each table had a white tablecloth on it with a beautiful flower arrangement in the center. The settings consisted of plates, silverware, glasses, and white cloth napkins. When the waitress came to take our order, we all ordered the chicken dinner, just as before when Bobby and I had eaten there. Each dinner included a large piece of chicken, baked potato, salad, bread roll, and dessert. Except for the dessert, all the dinner items were serve to us at the same time. When we finished eating our dinner, our plates were remove.
The waitress returned to our table carrying several small plates and bowls half filled with water with a lemon slice floating on top. She placed the small plates in front of us and set a bowl on each small plate. I asked Bobby if he wanted my lemon soup. He had enjoyed it so much the last time we were at the restaurant.
Shorty began to laugh and said, "Let me get this straight. Are you telling me that Bobby ate the contents of that bowl the last time you were here?" I told Shorty that not only did he eat his soup, he also ate my serving. I described how Bobby took his bread and tore it into little pieces and placed them in the soup and used a spoon to finish eating his soup.
At that point Shorty had started to convulse from laughing. We laughed along with Shorty, not knowing why he was laughing. When Shorty regained his composure, he told us that we were really ignorant country people. He explained that the bowls were call finger bowls because they were use to dip your fingers into after eating chicken to remove the grease. Then the bowls would be removed, and our waitress would bring us dessert and place it on the small plates.
Well, we did not know anything about finger bowls in Arkansas and Mississippi, where Bobby and I came from. We continued laughing after finding out that Bobby had eaten finger bowl water, thinking it was soup. That was the last time we ate there. We were too embarrassed to return to that restaurant ever again.
Strother is the main character inAlien in the Delta. He grew up on
welfare in the segregated rural town of Eudora Arkansas
near the Mississippi River. His first job at age fourteen was working
for the local newspaper company cleaning floors and
washing windows. Graduated from high school at age seventeen and took the
entrance exam for the US Air Force and failed it. He took it later in that year
and passed. He asked to go to France but was sent to Germany instead and assigned
to work in the motor pool. He would not learn how to drive a car and failed his
drivers test because he did not want to be in the motor pool. He later accepted
his fate. After learning how to drive he flipped a truck upside down his first
year in Germany. While his peer went
to the bars and nightclubs having fun he attended college at night. He would
have plenty of adventures in the future to write about because he learned how
to speak German.