KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 8: August 2017
Nonfiction: 243 words

Counter-Entomological Warfare

by Skip Eisiminger
Heaven’s love, at times, descends in small hugs
like the six-armed embrace of the ladybug.
The Wordspinner

One day before the war ended, my future wife’s kindergarten teacher said that because the Allies had air-dropped potato beetles on the Lower Saxon crop all students were to report to the school’s flagpole on Sunday morning.

At eight sharp, a horse-drawn wagon pulled up, and twenty-five children scrambled aboard for the short but bumpy ride to the farm that virtually surrounded the village. In the cobbled courtyard, they were given small buckets and an earnest lecture on the handling of the potato vine, the menace of the potato beetle, and the valor of die Marienkäfer, “our Lady’s beetle.” The elderly farmer, who served as the village mayor, said that ladybugs were “God’s chickens,” who interceded for farmers the way Mary interceded for man. The beetles, he said, were like the Jews, the foes of Christ and the German people, gnawing at der Führer’s vines. The children were then led into the fields and assigned a sector to comb. That morning, thousands of “Jews” were destroyed (though few of the children remembered ever seeing a real Jew), and “Mary’s beetles” were left unmolested, but no tiny parachutes were found to the children’s disappointment.

After the war, the mayor was sent away and taught not to compare beetles to humans, but this did not stop the “Jews” from dropping from parts unknown on the potato vines. Ingrid remembers wondering why God sent so many “Jews” and so few chickens.

—From a manuscript in progress

Skip Eisiminger
Issue 8, August 2017

is the son of Dorothy and Sterling Eisiminger. In 1959, he graduated from Mt. Vernon High School (his tenth school in twelve years). In 1963 while serving three and a half years in the Army Security Agency, he married Ingrid Barmwater of Helmstedt, West Germany. With her committed assistance, he graduated from Auburn University in 1967 (BS) and 1968 (MA). The same year, he settled his family in Clemson, South Carolina after taking a job teaching English and interdisciplinary humanities at Clemson University. After his son Shane was born in 1964 and his daughter Anja in 1969, he returned to graduate school in 1970. In 1974, he graduated from the University of South Carolina with a PhD in English after which he returned to Clemson. His only move after his return was across town.

Over forty-two years in academe, he published a book of verse, a book of word games, a children’s book, and two collections of essays. In forty-two years as a teacher at Clemson, he taught over nine thousand students in twenty-nine different courses.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Letters to the Grandchildren, Eisiminger’s collection of essays (Clemson University Press, 2014)

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