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
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
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.