World War II

When WWII broke out Otto wanted to fight for his country, but he was still a few years too young. So he lied about his date of birth and was accepted into the 82nd Airborne. He fought with the 82nd and 101st Airborne in France and Germany, where he earned a purple heart and seven clover leafs for injuries, including being shot in the groin, blinded in one eye, and other injuries.

When he returned to Ohio, there was no family to return to so he resumed his vagabond life, earning petty cash doing odd jobs. Otto found a job working in a nursing home. He learned that the elderly people there, who no one seemed to want, had much to offer from their lifelong experiences. Otto began relationships with various elderly patients.

Mr. Hatfield who was in WWI was like a father to Otto, teaching him things like how to behave in social relationships, and how to be kind, considerate and respectful. Mr. Hatfield also taught him about history and geography. Otto loved his mentor. He would spend long hours listening to and absorbing the life lessons offered. And then there was Mrs. Hart, a retired schoolteacher who taught Otto how to read. Since Otto did not get beyond the fourth grade, he needed so much and the nursing home was a wellspring of knowledge. And Otto was open and ready to learn. His mind, like his body was strong and deeply desirous of an education.

When his mentors died, Otto was bereft and again resumed his vagabond life. He unfortunately fell into a crowd of thieves, stealing and robbing banks which landed him a hefty ten-year prison sentence in the Ohio State Penitentiary.

Prison life hardened Otto. His natural contentiousness and frustration brought him into constant conflict, landing him in solitary confinement too many times. But being of strong mind and body, he survived. Always he thought about art, drawing and painting. In the quiet of his prison cell he would draw and draw and draw. Art kept him sane.

Otto's Early Years World War II NewYork City Marriage Latter Years
About his artwork