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Sol Feingold oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Michael Hirsh.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (48 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (22 p.)
Concentration camp liberators oral history project
This interview was conducted as research for The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust / Michael Hirsch (New York: Bantam Books, 2010).
Interview conducted September 5, 2008.
The Liberators: America's Witnesses to the Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 2010) and Concentration Camp Liberators Oral History Project, University of South Florida Libraries, 2010 Michael Hirsh.
Transcripts, excerpts, or any component of this interview may be used without the author's express written permission only for educational or research purposes. No portion of the interview audio or text may be broadcast, cablecast, webcast, or distributed without the author's express written permission.
This is an oral history interview with Holocaust concentration camp liberator Sol Feingold. Feingold was a rifleman in the 42nd Infantry Division, which liberated Dachau on April 29, 1945. That day, he had been assigned to General Henning Linden's party as a scout; Linden was the officer to whom the camp was surrendered. Feingold did not spend a great deal of time in the camp, as his group had to keep moving, and thus did not speak to any of the prisoners. After the war, he was involved with researching several books about Dachau, and was a key figure in organizing the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston. In this interview, Feingold also spends a great deal of time discussing the VA hospital where he resides.
Infantry Division, 42nd.
Infantry Division, 42nd
v Personal narratives.
Dachau (Concentration camp)
New England Holocaust Memorial.
World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945
Personal narratives, American.
World War, 1939-1945
Crimes against humanity.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center.
University of South Florida.
Special & Digital Collections.
Oral History Program.
Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects.
Concentration camp liberators oral history project.
y USF ONLINE ACCESS
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript
text Sol Feingold: the monuments erected. Steve Ross knows. And I worked on it. It was quite an undertaking.
Michael Hirsh: Mr. Feingold, did you getthis is Sol Feingold. Its S-o-l F-e-i-n-g-o-l-d.
MH: When were you born?
SF: Nineteen thirteen.
MH: Nineteen thirteen, so youre ninety-five years old.
SF: I will be on October 4.
MH: And you were with the 42nd Infantry Division?
SF: Yes, I was.
MH: What city in America were you from?
SF: Chelsea, Massachusetts.
MH: Ah, okay. So, when did you get to Dachau?
SF: On the twenty-ninth [of April, 1945].
MH: On the twenty-ninth?
MH: You were a rifleman?
SF: Yes, I was.
MH: With which unit?
SF: 42nd. I was with the 242nd Infantry Regiment.
MH: Can you tellwhat did you see when you first got there?
SF: Well, we came intowe came in through the administration area of the concentration camp. You know, Dachau consists of the two camps: one was a training camp for the SS, and the other part was the concentration camp portion, where they kept the inmates. There were 25,000 inmates there.
MH: Yeah. And when you got to the camp, was there any shooting?
SF: There was. There was another infantry division; there was the 179tha company from the 179th, if I remember correctly.
MH: Of the 45th Infantry Division?
SF: No. The 45th Infantry Division, they came in through the back side of the camp, whereas we came in through the front side of the camp. Yeah.
MH: And how much shooting was there when you got there?
SF: Well, the Americans did the killing.
SF: Yeah, they shot the SS prisoners there.
MH: What was your rank at the time?
SF: I was a private at that time.
MH: And how did you happen to be going into the camp?
SF: Yeah, I wasat that time, I was attached to the division headquarters, on that particular day. I was a scout.
MH: So, you were with General [Henning] Linden?
SF: Yeah. Well, he was part of the team, you know, that got there. He was the one who actually liberatedwell, he liberated the camp.
MH: Right, I know he took the surrender.
SF: Yeah, General Linden took the surrender.
MH: Were you watching that?
SF: No, I didnt see that, actually, there. But I know very much about it, because General Linden and I were very good friends after the war. He died about two years ago.
MH: When you got into the camp, were you able to talk to any of the inmates there, any of the prisoners?
SF: No, we were moving so rapidly because by the time we got there, the American army started moving a lot of troops into the camp, the hospital units to take care of the inmates. There was a lot of dysentery and sickness in the camp, so the inmates needed treatment and they brought in hospital units to take care of them. And probably the next day a lot of the inmates were given their freedom; you know, they could go out if they were healthy. Other than that, they stayed at Dachau, and they were treated by the hospital units. Yeah.
MH: How was it for you as a Jew to go into that place?
SF: Well, you see, you have to understand there were more goyim there than there were Jews.
SF: Because they were movingthe goyim, I think there were 15,000 priests there, Catholic priests. The Jews only numbered a small amount of the total population, because the Jews were being moved out so darned rapidly; they were moving them out to Austria to be killed. A lot of them were killed on the road.
MH: Did you ever see any of the death marches on the roads?
SF: No, we didnt see the death marches because we came and we moved so rapidly. We received word that there was a death camp, there was a concentration camp in our area. So we were givenat least thats what I knowwe were given orders there was a concentration camp on our route, and the word was there may be a concentration camp. You know, that camp was very sacred; even the population, the civilian population, claimed that they knew very little about the camp, although we believed that they knew much more than they said, than they told us that they knew. Because that camp had been there for years, for many years; it was one of the first camps. There were only two camps in Germany itself: one was at Dachaua main camp, Im talking aboutand the other was at Buchenwald. Yeah.
MH: How did that experience affect your life?
SF: Well, I still havent recovered. I hate this damned place. Well, even this conversation may be monitored. I dont like this place at all. So, how did it affect? Its affected my way of living. I hate this place. I hate it. Were notI dont believe were being treated properly, but thats the way it is. Ill die here. They wont let me out because Im blind, you knowIm not totally blind, but Im blind.
MH: But emotionally, how did seeing what you saw at Dachau affect your life?
SF: Well, it always left an impression on me. I thought, Why the hell did I ever come to this camp? Why did I have to find this place? You know what had an effect on me? The indifference of former inmates about this camp. They knew what went on, the Jewish people. You know, sometimes I feel sorry that I ever came upon this camp. Im giving you my personal opinion.
MH: Thats what I want. Why would you feel sorry that you ever came across Dachau?
MH: Why would you be sorry?
SF: Well, the partthe remembrance to not leave something on the inmates to remember their liberators. What do you think? Im a nobody; Im only expressing my own personal opinion, you know? But Im not happy about it. Im going to die here, but theres nothing I can do about it. The population here, the American population, theyre thieves here. Theyre thieves! They steal from the inmates. Theyve stolen money off of me.
MH: You mean at the VA hospital?
SF: Yeah. Yeah.
MH: Were you a religious person?
SF: No. I was religious in that I always remembered that I was a Jew, you know? We have a rabbi here; were supposed to have kosher food(inaudible) the manager for some kosher food. We have about ten inmates, ten veterans here. But no, no way. The only thing that leaves an impression, that we liberated a camp. Nothing.
MH: But that was an important thing to do.
SF: Oh, yeah, no question about it. It was an important thing to do. Now, I get to look back on it. I left a monument there. I was a member of a group that had a monument erected. There were six glass monuments. Have you ever been to Boston?
MH: Yes, but I didnt see the monument. The monument in Boston is where?
SF: At City Hall Plaza.
MH: Okay. And its a monument to?
SF: To the inmates, the Dachau
MH: The Dachau inmates.
SF: Yeah, six glass monuments. Each one has one million names on it, all Jews, all Jews.
MH: How did you get involved in that?
SF: Well, I just happened to be there at the particular time, and I was attached to the Division.
MH: No, I mean working on the monument.
SF: Oh. At that time, the word was about that they were getting a committee together to put up a monument. They got in touch with me. They knew I was there because I got involved in the book
MH: In which book?
SF: The liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. Yeah, I have a book. Well, I say have; I dont. The general, General Linden, and Steve Ross [wrote it]. But some of these inmates are more interestedoh, Im telling you, everybody claims to have liberated.
MH: Right. And the 45th Division is still fighting with the 42nd Division.
SF: Pardon me?
MH: I said, the 45th Division is still fighting with the 42nd Division over who liberated it.
SF: What did the 45th do?
MH: Im saying the 45th is still fighting with the 42nd over who
SF: Oh, they have no grounds. I know. When I say it, Im not speaking about fiction, because I did a thorough, thorough investigation with the general, with my other fellow Art Lee, who is a history buff. We learned the whole damn thing. I can give you a day-by-day rundown of exactly what happened. That colonel, lieutenant colonel from the other division, was supposed to have been court-martialed.
MH: You mean [Felix L.] Sparks?
SF: Yeah. He should have been. They moved him out of the camp the very same day Dachau was liberated, because he was the colonel who gave the orders to kill the German prisoners. I know he did. Most of the pictures aroundtheres a man, the guy who took the photographs. Now, these are motion picture films of the shooting of the German prisoners. The reason he was neverin my opinion, was never court-martialed was the fact that prior to that, the German SS soldier took thewhat was it?a group from the armored division, and summarily shot and killed a whole company of artillerymen.
MH: That was at Malmdy.
SF: At Normandy?
MH: No, Malmdy.
SF: Yes, yeah. He killed them, machine-gunned them. And the reason they couldnt court-martial this colonel [Sparks] was the fact that if they court-martialed him, they had to let whats his name, the SS colonel [Otto] Skorzenythey had to let him go.
Lieutenant Colonel Otto Skorzeny was not involved with the Malmdy massacre. He commanded Operation Greif, in which he and the soldiers of Panzer Brigade 150 dressed in American uniforms and infiltrated American lines during the Battle of the Bulge. Skorzeny and nine of the soldiers were tried in 1947 for violating the laws of war during this operation; all were acquitted.
Because Sparks did exactly what Skorzeny did: he killedhe shot the American soldiers. So, the Americans couldnt court-martial Sparks, they couldnt do it.
MH: You know, after Malmdy, there were a lot of Americans who didnt take any prisoners anymore.
SF: Oh, yeah, Americans
MH: A lot of German SS and regular soldiers just got shot, because of what happened at Malmdy.
SF: Oh, yes, that happened, yeah. But to see what they did here, and what happenedthe photographer who took the picture of thenow, Im talking motion picture
SF: was a Jew, Rosenblatt. Whats his name? I think it was Rosenblatt or Rosenthal. He took the motion pictures. And, you know, there were still photographs that were taken by members of the division or an army unit. But the motion pictures are taken by an Army higher-up from headquarters, okay? So, they had the motion pictures of the shooting of the German prisoners. Whereas in the other instances, you know, these are all part of the everyday actions: Americans kill the Germans, the Germans kill the Americans.
MH: But let me ask you: truth be told, do you really feel bad that those SS guys got shot?
SF: Oh, no, no.
MH: Thats what I thought.
SF: No, no, no, because they were scum.
SF: They were scum.
SF: You think we have any better American soldiers here? We got scum in here. We got scum, you know, the veterans here, the scum of the earth.
MH: Why do you say that?
SF: Because I live with them. They steal, they steal from each other. They stole, they stole my cigarettes, they stole my money. Theyre bums, theyre bums!
MH: What did you do when you came back to the United States after the war?
SF: I worked for the government.
MH: Whatd you do?
SF: I worked for the Navy. I worked for the Navy. I worked on different projects. I worked for NASA. I worked for theI worked a lot of jobs.
MH: In the Boston area?
SF: Oh, yeah, yeah.
MH: Were you married?
SF: I was married for a short while, a little while. I married the wifethe widow of an ex-Army colonel. Thats like going back to war.
MH: Did you have kids?
MH: No kids.
SF: No, but my wife had two beautiful kids. But she was lookin for a millionaire, Im sorry.
MH: How long have you been in the VA nursing home there?
SF: Well, hereIve been here over eight years. I worked for the governmentoh, God, how many years? I finished my career working for the government. I worked on a lot of projects for the government: I worked for the Navy, I worked for NASA. I traveled a lot for NASA. Oh, yeah. MIT.
SF: Oh, yeah.
MH: When did you retire?
SF: Oh, in 19uh, lets see, in the eighties [1980s] I think I retired. Yeah, I retired then.
MH: Aside from your vision, hows your health?
SF: Oh, look, Im ninety-five. If I survived the Army, I can survive this inquisition here. Yeah. In other words, this call may even be monitored.
MH: Thats okay. Theyre not going to do anything to you.
SF: No, I know.
MH: Yeah, what are you worried about?
SF: Im not worried. Im not worried.
MH: Were you wounded in the war?
SF: No, I wasnt wounded.
MH: Were you decorated for anything?
SF: I got the Bronze Star, and I got my bookI say my book; our book.
MH: Thats the book with Linden, you mean?
SF: Yeah. Thats a damn goodits a military book; its not heroes and all, its strictly military. I still have a few copies left. But General Linden and I, and my other buddyhes dead now, he was a crackerjack. We worked on it, gathering information for the book. We printed a thousand books.
MH: What was the name of the book?
SF: The Liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp onwhat date was it, the twenty-ninth?
Surrender of the Dachau Concentration Camp, 29 Apr. 45: The True Account, by John H. Linden, published in 1997 by Sycamore Press.
MH: Of April.
SF: Of April, 1945.
MH: Was that written with Lindens son?
SF: Lindens? Yeah. Pardon me?
MH: Was that written with General Lindens son? Or is that a different?
SF: Yeah, that was Colonel [John Henning] Linden.
MH: Colonel Linden, yeah. Have you ever run into anybody who said the Holocaust didnt happen?
SF: Oh, sure, you run into these people. You run into these goyim who say it was a phony, it didnt happen.
MH: What do you say?
SF: I say, Read the book. Read the book.
MH: Read the book.
SF: Thats all, thats all. You cant argue with a book that has the facts, that has the dates and when and where, you know? Its not fiction. I wish we could have gotten more books published. Let em read it.
MH: Did you ever have nightmares over what you saw there?
SF: Pardon me?
MH: Did you ever have nightmares over what you saw there?
SF: Well, you do. To this day, I remember everything, everything. And I say even some of these people, these people who were liberateddo you think they appreciate being liberated?
MH: Yes, they do.
SF: No. No, they dont.
MH: Sure they do.
SF: Well, Im talking to you from experience.
MH: Why, what kind of experience did you have?
SF: They forget. They forget who they are.
MH: You really think so?
SF: Oh, yes. Sure. Sure I do.
MH: Why? Why do you say that?
SF: That kind of people, thats all.
MH: I mean
SF: You know, I got a sister whos (inaudible). Not that shes, you know
MH: Where is she?
SF: Shes in the nursing home, but she wasnt in the war and all that. But shes in the nursing home. I havent seen her for two years. One of the guys I liberated, hes a doctor, a medical doctor, retired. He said, Sol, when I get back, Im going to take you to see your sister. Okay? I saw her once. I havent seen my sister since; thats over two years ago. Thats gratitude.
MH: Where is she in a nursing home?
SF: Nearby, here in Danvers, if you happen to know where Danvers is.
MH: No, I dont.
SF: Its near Boston. Im from Boston, so its about twenty-five miles. So
MH: How old is your sister?
SF: She must be in her eighties now. I dont know. Ive only seen her once. The doctor, hes retired; hes well offvery well off. His daughter is my lawyer. But, whatever. Im not happy here.
MH: Yeah, I can tell.
SF: Im very unhappy.
MH: Whats your lawyers name?
MH: Im sorry?
MH: Oh, Fisher.
SF: Yeah, Fisher.
MH: And her first name?
MH: And shes in Boston?
SF: Shes nearby; shes here in Newton.
MH: In Newton, Massachusetts.
MH: Okay. Well
SF: I always sing the song (sings) Youre Nobody Till Somebody Loves You. (laughs)
MH: (sings) Youre no one (hums)
SF: (sings) till somebody cares.
SF: You may be king, you may be this, you may be that. But who the hell gives a damn?
SF: What am I doin here? I say to myself. Im a prisoner in my own country. Im in a prison in a VA hospital, why? You know something? I cant even get into a Jewish nursing home. They wont take me.
SF: Im too old. Thats why Im a nobody.
SF: Thats what I say. What do you think, Im a happy guy? Im not happy.
MH: I know youre not happy, but youre not a nobody.
SF: Well, who am I? You tell me who I am.
SF: I helped liberate a camp.
MH: Yes. Yes you did.
MH: (phone is disconnected) That was Sol Feingold. The phone number at the ward in Bedford, Massachusetts, VA Nursing Home is. He was with the 42nd Infantry Division. His direct phone number is.
MH: Hi, its Mike Hirsh.
SF: I dont know what happened.
MH: We got cut off.
SF: Oh, is that what it did?
MH: But dont get paranoid; it wasnt the VA.
MH: It wasnt the VA.
SF: Oh, it wasnt the VA.
MH: No, its just an accident. So, I really feel bad that you dont feel good about what you did.
SF: Well, no, I dont. Sometimes I say to myselfI think about it, and even tonight before you calledwhat was your name again? I forget.
MH: My name is Michael
SF: Well, I have to say something. Ive been drinkin tonight, and I drink, you know, about every damn day. And I say to myselfeven today, before you even called, I say to myself, I wish I had never been there. I wish it had never happened. That I had to reach a stage in my life when nothings gone right for me. It hasnt gone right for me. I keep saying I wish I was dead. Theres no way. What have I accomplished? What, I liberatedI helped liberate it?
What I am glad is, I got the book written. I helped get the book written. Steve Ross is a sick man; hes in his seventies now. He was about sixteen or seventeen when he was liberated. The doctor wasTracy Fisher, my attorney, the daughter of the doctor who was liberated. He was only a kid that time; he must have been about ten or twelve years of age at the time. And he was liberated. You know, there isnt even that comradeship between former inmates. I introduced people who were in the same liberatedyou understand Jewish?
MH: A little bit.
SF: A little bit.
MH: A bisl.
SF: A bisl. You know what (inaudible) means?
MH: Uh, go ahead, tell me.
SF: Another day.
MH: Another day.
SF: Another day. Its another day in their lives; it doesnt mean a damn thing. It doesnt mean a damn thing. Youd think theyd keep in touch with each other. The two guys who live (inaudible)? They know from nothing. Vus mir?
MH: Do you think people have forgotten what you did?
SF: Oh, sure.
SF: Sure they forgot. I got my own fellow vets. Youre a hero, they say to me, you were a heroand yet they (inaudible) from me, they stole $100 from me just recently. What am I going to do? Hey, look, what? Friends who are in the wardyou know, hes younger. The younger generation of veterans, they dont know what war was. They dont know. They fought a different type of war: Korea, Vietnam.
MH: I was in Vietnam.
SF: A different kind of war.
MH: Very different.
MH: Very different. You guys fought a much tougher, harder war.
SF: Absolutely! Now you got it. We fought a trench war, you follow me?
MH: I know what you did. Im in awe of what you did.
SF: Yeah. These guys, what did they fight? A jungle war? Sure, they had it tough. But what weit was bad. It was bad. I sympathize. Well, I can go on.
MH: Sol, Ive told guys of your generation, I said, You know, in Vietnam, we didnt have enemy aircraft. We didnt have enemy artillery, except for the Marines way up north, who were getting it from the North Vietnamese. We werent under constant bombardment. And we served one year.
SF: Yeah, they dont know. You know, Michael, we foughtI foughtwe got to Germanyto Marseilles, Franceon December 12, okay?
MH: Of what year?
SF: Nineteen seventy-two.
MH: Nineteen forty-two.
SF: Yeah, 1942. And within twelve days, we were in the trenches already. Twelve days, greenhorns. We werent even a full division: three regiments. Greenhorns. Five to seven degrees below zero, summer uniforms on. (inaudible) Who the hells looking for money? Im glad I came out with my ass still whole. But hey, look, Im not (inaudible) to be here. But thats the way it was. It was a different kind of a war, altogether different.
MH: But that doesnt mean people have forgotten what youve done.
SF: Oh, sure, I know. They fought a different war. How many guys do I find who were in World War II here? I find a few guys here, yeah, very few.
MH: Youve lived longer than most of them.
MH: Youve lived longer than most of them.
SF: Oh, yes, I did. Sure, I did. And I dont forget em. And the one thing I always say of veteransIll never, Ill never, Ill never hurt a veteran. But these son of a bitches, these bastards, theyll steal from you. Theyll take the eye from out of your head. Yes, they all want to know when next payday is. Yeah. Oh, what can I do? I can talk and talk and talk.
MH: Hows the food they give you there?
SF: Pardon me?
MH: How is the food you get there?
SF: Oh, my God. You call it food? You know what I get for breakfast? Two slices of bread. Two damn slices of bread every day, most every day. I get some cereal. I still got a packet right here in my bag here. Corn flakes. Thats what I had this morning, corn flakes. The food sucks.
MH: Are you in a room by yourself or with a lot of guys?
SF: A room with some other guys. Yeah, some other guys who have it so damn nice and easy got a room all nice to themselves. Im in a room with about three other guys. Hey, what is it? This is why I say they dont care one damn bit about you here. They dont, they dont. What can I say? You have to live it to see it. Ah, a different war.
MH: And this is in Bedford, Massachusetts.
SF: Yeah. I understand (inaudible). You know, at one time the food used to be cooked here on hospital grounds. You know where the food is cooked?
SF: Cooked probably in Cincinnati, frozen, and then sent to Boston, to a commissary here. They warm it up. Its cold. Its cold food. It isnt fit for pigs! And you know, you have the people whoyou know, nurses whowho I would call nursesyou got nurses that come over from Asia and all that were trained. They have a shortage of help here. So, youre not getting the best of help. Its a fact. Im not describing something thats a lie, but thats the way it is. The government taxes the hell out of you. Can you imagine paying $70 for ten packages of cigarettes?
MH: Eh$70? You shouldnt be smoking anyhow.
SF: Thats right, I agree with you. Look, I dont disagree with you. But why tax the shit out of a veteran?
MH: (laughs) Right.
SF: Why do it to a veteran?
MH: You cant buy it in the commissary and not pay tax?
SF: (laughs) Thats a fallacy. They have a base camp here, you know what I mean? You can go into a base camp and not pay a state tax. You go to the CVS [pharmacy]you know CVS?
MH: Yeah, of course.
SF: I paid my providerwe call them providers; you know, take care of patientswent out and bought me a carton of cigarettes and paid $70 for a carton of cigarettes. So, is that right?
MH: That sounds pretty high to me.
SF: Thats what theyre payin.
MH: What kind of cigarettes you smoking?
SF: The best.
MH: What kind?
SF: The best cigarettes.
MH: What are they? Like Marlboros?
SF: Winstons. Marlboros I just paid $70 for.
MH: Yikes. How much do you smoke?
MH: How much do you smoke?
SF: I dont know. I smoke maybe a pack a week, maybe even less than that. Thats all. I shouldnt be smoking.
MH: I know that! Hows your health?
SF: My health is good. Hey, I reached ninety-five. But I shouldnt be smoking.
MH: Whats your birthday?
SF: October 4, Ill be ninety-five on October 4. I shouldnt be smoking. I say it, but you know, they wont even leave you alone. They wont leave you alone. You know, they have guards over us so we dont smoke. We have smoking hours. We have to go outside. We cant smoke here. We have VA police; theyre in uniforms with guns. We didnt have them during the war, but we got em here. (both laugh) It is something when you can laugh at your own misery here. And you know they have women inmates here?
SF: Theyre intermingled with men. I say, why should women be with men? Put them separate.
MH: You dont want the women around?
SF: I dont like them.
SF: I dont like them.
SF: Why? What did they do during the war? They did nothing.
MH: Well, Ive interviewed four or five of them who were nurses.
SF: Pardon me?
MH: Ive interviewed four or five of them who were nurses, including two of them who were at Dachau. They were with one of the evac [evacuation] hospitals.
SF: Yeah, yeah. Cest la vie, as they say. What can you do? I hate this place.
MH: Well, Im
SF: I wish I wasnt here. I cant get into my own nursing home, my Jewish nursing home. You know what I said? Dont bury me in a Jewish cemetery. I dont want a rabbi there. What did the JewsI say it, because its the truth. Give them a million dollars, and theyll take you in tout [de] suite. I cant get into a Jewish nursing home. Why shouldnt I be with my own people? Why do I have to get into a genem here? Why? Do I deserve it? I dont deserve that. I deserve something a little better. The foodwhen I tell you the food, it isnt food; its garbage. What can I say to you? You have to see it; you have to see it to believe it.
SF: I cantI dont manufacture news. I just relate whats happening here.
SF: They took this old hospital, I think 1988, and kept it going, you know. They should have closed this damn place. I was in a much better hospital, a government hospital, before I came here. This isnt the only hospital Ive been in. Much better; the food was better. I used to go to one hospital; I used to get fed good. The food was good. The food was good. But this is ersatz, ersatz. Its phony food. I cant eat it. I carry right here in my little bagI picked up a bag of corn flakes. I like cereal. A little packet with corn cereal, that comes in a sealed pack. Corn flakes. I kept them. If I run across a container of milk, Ill use it. Ill have cereal for breakfast. I dont want two flat ersatz eggs, you know. If I see a fresh egg, thats a delicacy.
SF: I dont see any eggs. I havent seenif Im taken outsideyeah, someone can take me outside, but I cant go outside. They got a bus here. The Italian War Vets gave this place a bus. The Italian War Vets; they paid $58,000 for the bus.
MH: And where do they take the soldiersthe patients?
SF: Pardon me?
MH: Where do they take you?
SF: They dont take you. You gotta behave. You gotta be a good boy, gotta take your medicine. But I cant ride the bus, because I have toI have tothe standards of a fekakta civilian. Shes, I dont know, in her early twenties or something like that. She runs this hospital. She runs this hospital. What does she know about vets?
MH: What kind of food would you like to eat?
SF: Oh, I would like some eggs. I would like to have some eggs. I would like to have some decent cereal in the morning. I dont get. You know, the food is cold. Its cold. Im not kidding. But you have to see it to believe it. You think Im kidding?
MH: They dont give you like Kelloggs corn flakes and Rice Krispies and Cheerios and that stuff?
SF: No, they give it to you in the little container. Thats it. But I dont get enough of it. I dont get enough. They give me a little container
MH: You cant ask for more?
SF: and a plastic little dish, a plastic dish. And thats my corn flakes.
MH: What sort of things do you like for lunch and dinner?
SF: Lunch? Well, I like to have a good meal, a hot meal. The meals are cold. Dont forget, theyre shipping this food in from a city about twenty miles from here. By the time it comes into the campus here and goes through the system here and you get it on your table, its cold. Who are you going to complain to? Whos going to cook the food? Whos going to heat the food? They dont give a damn. Eat it or dont eat it. Theyll tell you that.
MH: Okay. Well, I wish I were coming up to Boston, cause Id come over and visit you and take you out to eat.
SF: I would appreciate it very much. I have a guy that comes in here, but if they want to take me out, Ive gotta go in an automobile. I can get into the automobile, you know. Theres room for me so I can travel.
MH: Do you use a walker?
MH: Do you use a walker?
SF: No. Walker? What, are you kidding? (laughs) This is a VA hospital.
MH: No, do you need a walker to get around?
SF: No, but I have a wheelchair. But I need a car, somebody with a car wholl take me. There has to be room in the car so I can go out and eat. I used to have a fellow that used to have a car. I could go out in the car. He had a seat there, and he could take me out to a restaurant. I love it! I love to go out and eat. You know what I eat? I eat out of those vending machines. Would you believe it?
SF: I eat out of a vending machine. I eat Cheetos.
MH: Cheetos? (phone rings)
SF: Cheetos. Thats my meal. I got it right here in my walker here. Cheetos, thats what I have. Where am I going to get a hot meal?
MH: Hang on one second. (on cell phone) Hello? Hi, let me call you back.
SF: Pardon me?
MH: Nothing. I just had to tell somebody Id call them back.
SF: Yeah. But I have nothing to eat. I dont get a hot meal. I dont know what a hot meal is. Whos going to take me out? They have what is called patient escort. We dont have any patient escorts. They dont have a patient. They tell youyou bring in someone that you want to put into a VA hospital, well, they paint a rosy picture. Oh, this is what we do for the veterans, heres what we do, we have patient escort. They dont have it. They just dont have it. Theres none available. You know what I do? Im in a wheelchair. I got a wheelchair thats a broken-down piece of shit. I can fall and break my neck in this wheelchair. I tell them I had a good wheelchair, they took it away from me and I got a broken-down wheelchair that probably served in the Civil War.
MH: (laughs) Why dont youcant your lawyer do anything?
SF: Pardon me?
MH: Cant your lawyer do anything?
SF: I dont get your
MH: Your lawyer, Tracy, cant do anything?
MH: The lawyer, Fisher?
SF: No. Oh, they cant do anything. You know, theyll paint one of the most rosiest picture in the world. (inaudible). You know, theyre building a new hospital down on Washington to take the place ofwhats the name of the Army hospital down there?
MH: Walter Reed [Army Medical Center].
SF: Walter Reed. Theyll never finish the new hospital. They just dont have the money. Theyll tell you they dont have the money for it. Theres no money available, thats all.
MH: Okay. Well, I would hope things get better for you.
SF: You know, seeing is believing. Youve got to see what I mean. You know, dont take my word for it. Dont take my word for it. You know, these guys here dont know what a good meal is. They never saw a good meal. So the chazzerai they give em, they love it. Theyll gobble it up. But they dont knowa cold meal, it doesntI dont know. Id like to have a good steak. Id like to have a good hamburger. I had a hamburger today. Like a rock. Like a rock. I dont eat it. I dont eat it, I wont eat it, so I eat Cheetos. I have Slim Jims. You ever eat Slim Jims?
SF: You like em?
MH: Theyre okay.
SF: Would you like em every day?
SF: I got em. I got a Slim Jims. My guy takes me to go down to the canteen, gets me a can of Slim Jims, what else? Cheetos, potato chips. I eat a lot of potato chips. Theres no hot meal. Theres no hot meals, Michael. Thats the way, thats the system here. Im not a complainer. Look, I was brought up poor; I know what lousy food is. This is lousy food. But Ive never been in a place likeyou know, I say I want to get the hell out of here. Id rather die here than continue. But the others here, the goyim? Give them drek and theyll eat it like it was ice cream.
MH: (laughs) Okay.
SF: The government? These contractors are making the money. The big companiescan you imagine? You buy Coca-Cola?
SF: How much you pay for a bottle? Just a drink.
MH: Just one drink?
SF: Yeah, a sixteen-ounce bottle.
MH: I dont even know what they cost, cause we dont buy them like that.
SF: Lets say a bottle. You drink a bottle?
SF: Yeah, how much you pay for it?
MH: That kind of bottle? Youd probably pay a dollar. Youd probably pay a dollar for it.
SF: I paid a buck and a half for it. As if Coca-Cola isnt making enough money. They got contracts with the government. The owner, NabiscoPepsi-Cola cant get into a government place. Why? Because they havent got the connections. Look, Im not making up stories; I just want you to understand the system. I hate this damn place. Theyre making money off the veterans. Maybe this phone is being monitored but I dont give a damn. What have I got to lose?
MH: Okay. Well, I need to go. My wife is calling me right now.
SF: Okay. When the general orders you to do something, you do it.
MH: Youre right.
SF: Thats the system. But Id like to meet you.
MH: Okay, well, if I get up that way
SF: Id like to have youon the quietvisit a VA Hospital. You know, I used to live in a town; we had a naval hospital, we had a veterans home. The food was good. It was good. But the government (inaudible). Whats the sense, whats the sense? Im ninety-five, so maybe I got a year or two to go. Thats the way it is.
MH: All right, sir, you take care of yourself.
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