Rudolf unwittingly shook his head. What would it would be like to grow up with his own parents rather than his grandparents? His grandmother Luise was always unhappy about something, although Rudolf never knew for sure that he was the cause of her unhappiness. It seemed to him, however, that no matter what he did, she was unhappy.
“I wish I were as strong as you,” Rudolf said. Suddenly, Rudolf decided he could no longer keep his secret longing from Lothar. “Can I tell you something that I have been thinking about for a long time?”
Lothar put down his food and looked at his friend. “You want to run away from home?”
Rudolf frowned. “No, Lothar, of course not! I want to become a member of the Hitler Youth.”
Lothar began to laugh but when he saw the serious look on Rudolf’s face, he stifled it. “Mein Gott, Rudi, why do you want to do that?”
“Because, Lothar, it will get me out of my grandmother’s hands. You don’t know what it is like, Lothar! She is constantly on me, giving me directions about the smallest of things; always checking on me. The only time I feel free is when I am outside with you and the others. I was talking to Peter, you know Peter Heinz don’t you?”
“He is about fifteen years old. I’m not sure where he lives, across the river I think, but I met him one day when my grandfather took me to the shipyard. Peter was there with his father who works for my grandfather and we began talking about the Hitler Youth. He has been a member for two years and he particularly enjoys the freedom he has from his parents. He said he loves the precision marching, and the camping out in the forest. Oh, Lothar! There is not only marching and camping, but members learn different sports like rowing, boxing, and they have war games!”
Lothar frowned. “It sounds nice, Rudi, but I am not sure I would like all that marching. When would you have time to play Sardines?”
Rudolf did not have time to answer because the noon break was almost over. But his friend’s question made him think about his favorite game of tag. Rudolf wondered if Lothar was right—if he joined the Hitler Youth, would he have time to play Sardines.
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