The morning sunlight escaped through vacant lots inn a cloudy sky scape . Sunbeams fell to the ground and splattered a splash of bright light across the vineyard where a young girl was working .
She stood alone among the grapevines thinking about the war being fought in nearby countries . The silence was shattered by the sound of a train rolling along the tracks that ran adjacent to where she stood .
When the train came into view she noticed swastikas were painted on every carriage . She tried to hide from the eyes of German guards who were perched on lookout around the train .
She watched in surprise as a young man jumped from one of the carriages on the train . He rolled away into the bushes and avoided being seen by anyone except the young girl who made her way over to the place where he had landed .
The man stood up and smiled .
“Hello . “
He said softly .
The reply came .
“Are you going to turn me in to the Germans then ?”
He said .
The young girl replied ,
“Why would I want to do that . After all aren’t we on the same side ?”
The young man said .
“I hope so . I don’t know who to trust anymore , I was separated from my parents . I don’t know if I’ll ever see my parents again .”
He looked into her eyes with a child’s innocence that captured her heart .
:How awful .“
She said .
Tears rolled down his face and she could see he presented no threat to her and started to talk .
”My name is Angela . This is my parents property . These vineyards and have provided bottled wine to tables all over Europe . They have said that we have produced one of the best wines on the market .”
” How wonderful for you Angie . My name is Hyman and I’m a Jew .The train I jumped from was escorting many Jewish prisoners to a concentration camp . Lucky for me I jumped off the train . I knew I had maybe one chance and when I saw this beautiful green valley I just knew I had to take that leap of faith . I just couldn’t go to that camp in Germany .“
He said and Angela replied .
“No one has ever called me Angie before . I like it . That was a very brave thing you did Hyman . It must have been at least twenty feet from the train until you landed .“
“I was lucky to have landed ina haystack on the edge of the property .“
He said .
“So what are you going to do now Hyman ?”
She asked .
“Well I am going to make my way into that German concentration camp . and rescue as many of my people as I can Angie .“
“Well Hyman , you look as if you could use a feed .“
“I haven’t eaten for over a week . I am very hungry Angie .”
She thought for a moment and then motioned with her finger for him to follow her .
She took Hyman through the lower vineyard . The gate into another field was
Broken . It had fallen from its hinges and lay their on the ground in need of repair . In the field were some Olive trees that looked as if they had not born fruit for years . When they left through another broken gate in the field
They came to a long sweeping path that made its way to a large villa .
The path was lined with overgrown weeds and a number of faded white statues that required cleaning and a coat of paint .
Angie raced to the front door of her home . Hyman stood and looked at the big home . The windows of the large Villa had a number of flower boxes on the window sills that were in need of help . Dying geraniums were withering away for the want of water . A triangular based water fountain sat outside the front door like the memory of someone who had died .
Hyman followed Angie past some Olive trees that looked as if they had not born fruit for years .
Angie made her way inside and told her parents about the young man she had met . Her parents came to the door .
They both were old and fragile .
Mr Latino smiled and reached out a hand .
“Welcome to our home Hyman . My name is Mario .. Won’t you come in . “
Mrs Latino said .
“Hello I’m Patrica . Well I’m told you have just escaped a terrible fate .”
Hyman went inside and sat down on a sofa . After speaking about the weather then his parents and his childhood , Hyman went on to speak of what was happening in other parts of Europe with the war . He spoke softly and slowly to them . They were very impressed at his gentle manner and listened intently to all he had to say . After a while Hyman was offered a meal by Angela’s mother who apologized before the meal was even cooked .
She said .
“We have a lack of staff in the home due to the war . All our workers have gone off to fight for the country .So you’ll have to put up with an old woman’s cooking . I hope you like spaghetti bolognaise young man “
Hyman laughed .
“I just love spaghetti bolognaise .“
He said .
Dinner was being cooked he told them all about the terrible night when the German soldiers took everyone in his town away from their homes and how they were all put into train carriages .
As dinner was being served he said how fortunate he was of the new circumstance that had brought him to their door .
Mr and Mrs Latino had been drawn into a security that Hyman was a good and kind person . Hyman certainly had a magnetic attraction on them .
After dinner Hyman was offered shelter for the night in a barn on their property . He gratefully accepted their offer .
What a surprise it was for Mr and Mr Latino when they got up in the morning to discover a new look had presented itself outside .
Gates had been fixed and statues painted .Some weeding had also been done . The water in the fountain was running clear and around the property there was a tidiness not seen for a long time .
In return for their kindness Hyman had spent most of the night and morning doing some much needed maintenance around the place .
It was a lucky day for everyone . The Latinos realised how much they needed a man around the place and so an offer was put forward to Hyman which he accepted . Hyman was offered a place to live , food to eat and most of all a safe haven until the war was over .
Hyman felt almost like one of the family and each day was up before dawn ut working around the property . Fences were being repaired as well as some of the farming equipment around the place . He attended to the small orchard garden before making his way to the Olive field . Month’s passed and in a very short time the results were being seen . Hyman’s hard work was being rewarded . The place looked great .
Angie would often bring food and drink to Hyman each day in the fields. He worked hard until dusk and huge changes had been made on the property .
One day out of the blue a group of German soldiers arrived in cars and tanks outside the property . They very quickly took occupancy of the Villa .
Angie ran and informed Hyman to pretend to be one of the Latino family .He was urged not to show any fear of the Germans . The Germans suspected nothing and accepted Hyman as one of the Latinos .
The Germans were happy and the Latinos fed them well .
At times the German soldiers brought prisoners back to the property where they were shot and buried .
Hyman had dig their graves around the property . There were times when Hyman was pushed to the limit but he knew he had to obey their orders .
He had saw how their own soldiers were punished for not following orders . .
The daily reminder of war was a chilling fact and there was no room for complacency . No time to explain or reason just timer to accept why things were the way they were .
Hyman was protected by the Latino family . He worked away on the property
Minding his own business so the German soldiers left him alone .
Eventually the war came to an end and the German troops had all ran off the property . It was at this point in time when Hyman also decided to leave the Latinos as they would soon have their workers back from the war .
For the next few years Hyman travelled extensively searching for his parents checking records and showing photographs to every one he could in an effort to find where they were . Hyman never did find what had happened to them and after a while gave up looking .
He soon began to miss Angie and her parents and decided to return to their property . What a welcome he was given on his return .
Hyman was impressed with what he saw . The Villa had been transformed into a hotel while a new dwelling had been build for Angie and her parents to live .
The vineyard had grown and on the property there was a restaurant . The Latino Winery had made a name for itself . It was opened to the public and regular bus loads of people came to sample and buy wine from the cellar door and to have meals as well .
Mr and Mrs Latino offered Hyman a job as property manager .
He accepted and during the following year Angie and Hyman found that a relationship had happened .
They soon announced their engagement and a wedding day in the summer was planned .
They were wed and soon started a family.
In the space of six years they had four children . Two boys and two girls .
Angie and Hyman lived a happy life together watching their children grow up in a peaceful world .
By Paul McCann