Herman's Deadly Encounters
… It’s hard to believe Neuman has lived to tell it, ...
and even remained sane…
~ Writer’s Digest life stories judge
Even after Herman had finished writing his memoir, he did not fully realize how low the odds of his survival had been. Because his readers and audiences have been telling him about the impossibility of him staying alive, he compiled the Deadly Encounters list shown below. It only includes killer illnesses and accidents. He suffered the illnesses during WWII when no antibiotics were available to him.
Nearly died from a heat stroke as
Nearly died from a middle ear infection, operation as a baby
Years of stinky, chronic ear infection. With proud flesh.
World War II
Machine-gunned from airplane
Chased by a clanking, roaring tank
Ammunition train blowing up
Years of e. coli-charged environment & food poisonings
Falling out of a tree past a barbwire fence
Hammering bullets from cartridges
Throwing around "potato masher" hand grenade
Home-made bombs and rockets with home-made black powder, and other, poisonous, ingredients
Raging father threatened to kill our family
Tractor overturned backwards
Charged by a Holstein bull
Careening down a dark highway sideways with car full of kids
Sleeping over extremely unstable dynamite for six months (This is a good one!)
Front wheel of jalopy turned sideways
Hood blew up on car
Diving on inner tube
Speeding bullet in someone's living room
Showered with molten iron
Riding a runaway horse on a slippery-wet pasture
Car off road
Assaulted by an unknown muscle man
Car off road again
Car spun around road on highway
Hit snow drift while passing a semi-truck/trailer in swirling snow
Driving on wrong side of US highway during a nighttime ground blizzard
Jack-knifed a pickup pulling a horse trailer on a freeway during a Nevada blizzard
Big snow slide while on a glacier
Three hurricanes and one typhoon on high seas
Rear-ended while driving down an icy hill
Almost buried alive in sand
In addition to these Deadly Encounters, Herman also describes the circumstances of his many chemical, radiation, noxious dust and mold exposures and his consequent MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity). It is very important for everyone to learn about such environmental toxins, because such mostly invisible hazards are all around us. Because of Herman's many and prolonged or intense exposures, it is truly amazing that he has not yet grown into a blob of cancer cells, or into a bundle of buzzing nerves or,....
But then, people have said that he has the patience of Job.Heat stroke as a baby:
Because we lived in a fourth-story apartment along with its owner who suffered advanced tuberculosis, my mother wanted me to have a lot of fresh air and sunshine. She often parked me on the sill of a window open to a slate Mansard roof. Once a little too long. I was cooked. She would write me years later, that I was a beet-red baby, and a doctor had saved my life. And since this were the days before refrigerators of freezers there was no ice to cool me down. I was almost cooked.
Extremely severe middle
ear infection, operation as a baby:
After an eight-day high-fever-brain-frying experience, little Nazi bureaucrats finally gave my mother permission to let me into a hospital. A surgeon informed her that I was almost dead. For reasons unknown to me, my infection advanced way beyond what would be expected under normal conditions, because it literally rotted out my hammer, anvil, stirrup and eardrum in my right middle ear. Along with a chunk of my skull. Afterwards it took me weeks to learn to walk again. According to the latest findings, writer Oscar Wilde died of a middle ear infection at the age of forty-six.
Years of stinky, chronic
ear infection. With proud flesh:
It is an amazing miracle that this did not kill me. This proud flesh, also called granulation, was caused by continuous neglect of this what’s-left-of-it-ear infection. For years, I had a stinky pus running out of my ear. This condition also grew wild meat, which is usually referred to as proud flesh. I had to have two subsequent surgeries to remove such from my head. But you may still call me “Meathead." This condition seems to be so rare in people, that a Google search for proud flesh mostly returns links to dictionary definitions and horse injuries.
A painful bacterial infection that causes fever and difficulty in breathing. In severe cases it can cause death by asphyxiation in three or four days. It killed one of every ten people who had it. "In the 18th century, this disease reached the American colonies in epidemic proportions. Often, whole families died of this disease within a few weeks." I still have documentation that my little brother and I spent twenty-six days in a hospital. But this was a good place to be, because that’s when our apartment went up in flames during a bombing raid.
Some babies cough so hard that they turn blue in the face and vomit. Or die.
I lived in two different residences with TB infected people. One of them had constantly pus oozing out of a sore on her cheek. She’d wipe it with her twiggy fingers and smear herself around on door knobs and other convenient places. Like I, from my little artesian wellhead in my right ear.
World War II:
It was not a good idea to live near airplane, dynamite and aluminum factories during a war. I still remember being in at least two different bomb shelters and huddling in a crowded basement. Nonetheless, I will be forever grateful for the heroes who liberated me from the Nazi tyranny.
While my mother, little brother and I were walking towards a steel bridge in a neighboring village of the city of Regensburg, where a Messerschmidt airplane factory was located, someone tried to tickle us from above with zinging bullets.
Years of E. Coli-charged
environment & food poisonings:
During several years of nation-wide starvation after World War II, and for years thereafter, our family frequently ate moldy and semi-rotten food from waste piles. And at least once, fresh pig’s guts, which my little brother and I had to scavenge from a fresh manure pile. Our village had only cesspools and hand-operated domestic water wells with a very high water table. Our such facilities were separated by only about thirty feet. At times, my brother and I had severe belly aches and relived them with competitive projectile upchucking. We both always won.
Hammering bullets from
When I was about seven or eight years old, I found some live ammo left over from WW II. While I was hammering the bullets to remove them, my mother stopped me from making a great discovery.
Throwing around "potato
masher" hand grenade:
Same age range as above. My brother and I must have found this wood-handled grenade and tossed it back and forth on a brick-paved road. Why I don't know, and I don't think we knew what it was.
As a youngster I touched both wires of a live 220 Volt circuit inside metallic tubing. However, there was no ground wire.
While I pushing a iron water pipe along the ceiling of the basement the old house I was remodeling, it crossed a bare electrical circuit, blessing me with a shower of sparks falling to the floor.
I shut off the 120 Volt circuit breaker in an old barn, so I could connect the breaker box with a #6 bare ground wire to grounding rod outside. Zap. I traced the faulty wiring back to an old crossover splice upstream from the breaker.
Home-made bombs, rockets,
etc., with homemade black powder, and other, poisonous, ingredients:
When we were about fourteen and sixteen years old, we played with such just for fun.
One of our pipe bombs chipped the cement stucco on a church.
No one ever screamed, or whispered, “no-no, don‘t do this.”
We gained no fame with mug shots in post offices and newspapers.
Raging father threatened to
kill our family:
I still his have a copy of his letter to one of his powerful lawyers claiming that he would do so. And even though I was only about fourteen years old, I didn’t pee my pants, while helplessly watching him beat and kick my mother. Or maybe I did.
While I was pulling a manure spreader loaded with “nutrients” through a creek, the tractor reared up unexpectedly. It rotated around its rear axle, because the manure spreader got stuck in creek. Instead of becoming a cowboy, as I had dreamed, I almost became "nutrient" in the land of my dreams. Without an environmental impact statement.
I did not yet have a driver’s license or had received no safety instructions.
Recently I met a man who was crushed in such an accident. He spent about a year in hospitals.
Charged by a Holstein bull:
My slave master, yes, slave master, forced me to lead a horny one-ton bull about one mile down a highway. By myself, with a chain, which was fastened to a body-piercing ring in his nostrils. But he wanted to return to his "open" girlfriends, which were bawling for him from an adjacent fence. For some reason Bully got mad, and I became of greater interest to him. He chased me down the highway. I jumped out of his way, just about when he was going to rub my butt. Courageously, I let him drag me down the road for some distance. And I didn't even pee my pants. When I lost my cool, I let go of his chain, and he disappeared around a turn. My slave master arrived in his pickup and complimented me with: “You old grandmother.” Did he have insurance on my life?
Careening down a dark
highway sideways with car full of kids:
Shortly after I received my driver’s license, I was driving at more than 50 mph, when someone shouted, “turn right here.” Car slid sideways to within inches of another car stopped at our turnoff.
Sleeping over extremely unstable dynamite for six months (This is a good one:)
During that time I did not know that dynamite can become highly unstable. I still have a letter, in which my second slave master wrote me from across the country, for me to take his dynamite, which he had stored under my bed in his shack by a vast muddy tideland, to someone's farm. He also informed me that “dynamite is not all that dangerous, but that I should be careful with the black powder.” I moved it and its cardboard box was so "wet" that I had to embrace it to keep the dynamite from falling out. And the sticks were also squishy and covered with clear beads, which I assumed to be condensation from the ever-damp climate in Western Washington.
While assuming that this highly dangerous load was entirely harmless, I embraced it to keep it from falling apart, and dumped it into the trunk of my master's jalopy to drive over a washboard gravel road. Then I dropped it on the floor of a farm shed.
I did not know that this explosive could, and had become extremely dangerous until decades later. So I contacted a bomb disposal expert, Tim, and described to him the condition of the box, dynamite and how I had transported it. He informed me that the clear liquid beads and the dampness in the cardboard was nitroglycerin, which had leached out of the sticks. And that I "should play the lottery, because of my luck. If you had dropped any of this less than one inch, you would have blown up." - As sausage making ingredients into the sky. The extreme danger of unstable dynamite is verified with an Internet search.
Front wheel of jalopy
My brother and I were on a 300-mile trip across Washington. Close to the end, while we were almost stopped for a stop sign, the steering linkage came apart.
If that had happened at 60 mph, …
A few weeks thereafter, the TV news showed the results of such an accident, in which the driver was killed.
Driving on inner tube:
I was on a fifty-mile trip with my master’s jalopy and noticed that the steering felt more wobbly than unseal. I stopped and I found that a front inner-tube was bulging out of a hole in the bald tire.
I kept cool, or went stupid, and finished this trip essentially riding on air. Being poor can be exciting.
Speeding bullet in someone’s living
I was visiting someone, while he was cleaning his pistol. Its chamber was not empty and the shock impacted the wax in my ears. The accidental marksman was shaken but I kept cool.
I stood in front of my horse, while the saddle was hanging from his belly. He jumped forward and knocked me down. Then he kicked and bucked over the top of me, lengthwise, but never touched me.
This made me even cooler than before, because I can poke the end of my collar bone out of my shoulder.
While I was riding another horse, she stumbled and rolled unto one arm and leg. She stopped rolling just before the saddle horn would have impaled me. Later I saw a bareback bronco rider getting crushed to death under his horse. His horse made several attempts to get up by rocking unto its back in order to gain momentum to get back up.
Riding a runaway horse on
a slippery-wet pasture:
I was riding through a broad high-mountain valley on a mustang. She must have had poor eye sight, because she often tripped and stumbled. I was the only person for miles around. Suddenly she ran away with me as fast as she could and would not stop until she was exhausted. And again I didn't...
Car off road:
I was driving by myself at about forty to fifty mph, when the left front wheel of my front-wheel drive, four-cylinder car hit a slush pile on the road. Car spun around and came to a halt in a borrow pit, facing 180 degree in opposite direction.
Assaulted by a unknown
While I was parking my vehicle facing a building, another one pulled up directly behind me and stopped. Just like most people would under the Nazi terror regime, I will say no more..., unless...
Hit invisible snow drift
while passing a semi-truck:
While I was passing a truck, the truck and I simultaneously hit a snow drift at sixty-plus miles per hour on a two-lane highway. I was sure that this would finally end all of my adventures. But we kept right on going as if driving on a bare pavement.
Driving on wrong side of
a US Highway during a night time Nevada ground blizzard:
Our station wagon was full of people. I had to drive on the left side, because I could only distinguish the highway by the left borrow pit shadow from my headlights.
Jack-knifing a pickup pulling a horse
trailer on a freeway during a Nevada blizzard:
Instinctively I pushed the gas pedal and straightened out again to continue my trip for another fifty miles. No one else seemed to have been afflicted by such stupidity to be driving under these conditions.
Snow slide while on Mt. Rainier glacier:
Our rope team descended from the summit of Mt. Rainier. We had to cross a very narrow rock ledge horizontally, along the bottom of “Disappointment Clever,” a rock outcropping splitting the glacier field. When our leader was re-entering the glacier field on the far side, a big slide whooshed down right in front of him.
Three hurricanes and one
typhoon on high seas:
A ship carrying lumber broke apart not far from our ocean liner in the South China Sea.
While crossing the Atlantic Ocean, our ship lost a propeller, and we were thrown off course. This delayed our arrival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by a day or two.
Rear-ended while driving
down an icy slippery hill:
Rear-end collision pushed our car into an oncoming car.
Later, while parked by the side of the road, another car rear-ended our car, while my wife was sitting in it. She received a whiplash. Sometime later, while I was taking a photo of our damaged car, now parked at the bottom of this hill, another car rear-ended it, and I caught this on film.
Almost buried alive
After bending over in the sandy backfill of a foundation wall, I stood back up. Moments later the dirt collapsed around me up to around my waist. Since I was alone, I am not sure if anyone would have ever found me.