MELVIN’ S MONTHLY MOMENTS
THE SPELLBINDING STORY OF LOOF LIRPA
A Journey Across Enemy Lines
I’m a student of history. In college, I was an accounting major, but I loved my history classes the most. I remember one history professor in particular who brought the past alive for me more than any other. DuringWorldWar II, this professor’s father was a German officer who had to leave his pregnant wife behind. One night, far into her pregnancy, she was attending a movie in Berlin when American planes bombed Berlin for the first time. She had to wait it out in an air raid shelter, and at some point during the bombing, she gave birth to the professor. The professor’s father died in the war, and his mother ended up marrying an American soldier and raising her son in America. At one point, when the professor was a young man, he was watching a video of American bombers taking off to bomb Berlin. The date noted at the bottom of the screen was the day he was born. The “His personal history was fascinating, but it was nothing compared to all the fascinating little historical tidbits he had picked up over his lifetime. He was full of stories, and he effortlessly kept us spellbound with them.”
thought occurred to him that somewhere in an air raid shelter in Berlin, this American-raised professor was being born to his German mother while the American pilots were dropping bombs overhead that were meant to kill him. He always told this story with a smile; he had a devilish sense of humor. His personal history was fascinating, but it was nothing compared to all the fascinating little historical tidbits he had picked up over his lifetime. He was full of stories, and he effortlessly kept us spellbound with them. One time, he told us a story once about a Hessian soldier (a German mercenary hired by Great Brittan) who became a great hero during the Revolutionary War. His name was Loof Lirpa, and he fought for the British at the Battle of Trenton on Dec. 26, 1776. The famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware is from this battle. The battle was actually a defeat of a Hessian army, and on Christmas that year, the Hessian soldiers had gotten so drunk that the next day, American troops easily defeated them. Loof was so impressed by the Americans that he changed sides and began to fight alongside them. He used his status as a Hessian soldier to move behind enemy lines and gather information. The information Lirpa gathered was essential in helpingWashington stay one step ahead of the British. GeorgeWashington once stated that without the help of Loof, the Americans might not have won the war.
“The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776” by John Trumbull
The funny thing is that if you spell Loof Lirpa’s name backward, it spells April fool. We didn’t catch on until my professor wrote it up on the board. APRIL FOOL – there was no Loof Lirpa! By the time we realized it, we had all taken a couple of pages of notes on Loof Lirpa. My professor was wily like that, and he had enough of our trust to get away with it. To all of you reading out there, happy April Fools’ Day! Don’t get taken on any Loof Lirpa rides this year, and happy spring!
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