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“She’s going to kill me.”
She, of course, was Rosa Hubermann, also known as Mama, and she very nearly did kill her. The word
Saumensch featured heavily in the administration of punishment. She made mincemeat out of her. THE JESSE OWENS INCIDENT
As we both know, Liesel wasn’t on hand on Himmel Street when Rudy performed his act of childhood infamy.
When she looked back, though, it felt like she’d actually been there. In her memory, she had somehow become
a member of Rudy’s imaginary audience. Nobody else mentioned it, but Rudy certainly made up for that, so
much that when Liesel came to recollect her story, the Jesse Owens incident was as much a part of it as
everything she witnessed firsthand.
It was 1936. The Olympics. Hitler’s games.
Jesse Owens had just completed the 4 × 100m relay and won his fourth gold medal. Talk that he was subhuman
because he was black and Hitler’s refusal to shake his hand were touted around the world. Even the most racist
Germans were amazed with the efforts of Owens, and word of his feat slipped through the cracks. No one was
more impressed than Rudy Steiner.
Everyone in his family was crowded together in their family room when he slipped out and made his way to the
kitchen. He pulled some charcoal from the stove and gripped it in the smallness of his hands. “Now.” There was
a smile. He was ready.
He smeared the charcoal on, nice and thick, till he was covered in black. Even his hair received a once-over.
In the window, the boy grinned almost maniacally at his reflection, and in his shorts and tank top, he quietly
abducted his older brother’s bike and pedaled it up the street, heading for Hubert Oval. In one of his pockets,
he’d hidden a few pieces of extra charcoal, in case some of it wore off later.
In Liesel’s mind, the moon was sewn into the sky that night. Clouds were stitched around it.
The rusty bike crumbled to a halt at the Hubert Oval fence line and Rudy climbed over. He landed on the other
side and trotted weedily up toward the beginnin...
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This note was uploaded on 01/17/2014 for the course ENG 99 taught by Professor Michal during the Winter '13 term at CSU Sacramento.
- Winter '13