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June 02, 1973 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1973-06-02

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Soturday, June 2, 1

Page Ten


84-year-old swashbuckler
remembers a bizzare life

NEW YORK (UPI) - T h e
slave girl draped heavy veils
over Carl Von Hoffman's khaki
shirt and placed soecial shoes on
his feet to mark hint as the wife
of a Moroccan nobleman.
With only one eye showin
titrougth the lIyers of cloth, Von
HIoffian wllked thrott th chub-
icle-lined corridors in the pnlace
of the a h f tf Fe4. Tl year
was 1920, od Cr i Vtt Iltff-
nis becatme tie first whit matn
to enter a tioroccan iharem.
AS TIlE j'tgte tnigtht fel, Cart
Vton loffinan sot iI the gra
httt of a Shltttke chief in North-
ern Rhode.sia, doing magic tricks
for the n ties.
They caled hirn Solet t) -
Slomont and Moses - herase te
at-ays brought a bagful of
sleight-of-hand tricks. This time,
in 1924, he was making a white
handkerchief turn colors - and
inftriating the witch doctor.
"I will stop him," the witch
doctor cried. And with l o u d
chants and rapid dancesteps, he
circled the tut in which the
young explorer sat.
"NOW lIE can't do it any-
more." thr' witch doctor stid. The
natives at Iched silently. Von
Hoffman, with a nervos smile,
tOrned the magic white handker-
chief red a'gan.
It was King Chiwale himself
who knocked the witch doctor to
the dirt floor -- just as he was
about to fling his spear through
Von Hoffman.
In the mountains of Formosa,
which even few missionaries had
penetrated in 19,30, Cart Voa
Hoffman stood besides the head-
ed and befeathered native -
whose tribe still hunted heads.
THE TWO had become friends,
and now was the time to become
blood brothers.
Von Hoffman picked up a knife
and slit a vein in his wrist. The
blood dripped into a carved
wooden cup on the end of a stick.
The headhunter did the same,
driping his blood into another
cup on the other end of the
THEN THE CUPS were filled
with native beer, and each man
drank the other's blood. They
were blood brothers for life.
Carl Von Hoffman is 94 now,

and his exptloring days aro past.
He lives with his wife in a
fashionable apartment on Man-
hattan's East Side. The watls
bristle with spears and fetishes,
clubs and poison arrows - all
relics of his adventures.
The dark hair of his youth
has turned white. The eyes which
squinted through the mist of jun-
gle gt des now peer through
thick eyeglasses. The legs which
csrried him on a 2,500-mile walk
from Cairo to ( apetown move
strw'y non.
He remembers 12 months of
riding with the faned Mexican
rev(tlutionarv Panc'ho Villa. He
remembers hunting kangaroo
with Austratian bushmen. He
retnembers safariing to South
America with Teddy Roosevelt.
Von Hoffman ran away from
the St. Petersburg Military Acad-
emy in Russia when he was 14
years otd, to fight in the Rus& t-
Japanese War. He was wounded,
promoted, decorated and rest-
less when the war ended.
IN 1908, he came to America.
"I couldn't speak much Eng-
lish," Von Hoffman recalled.
"So, I became a newspaper
Ilis skill as a still photograph-
er and movie cameraman launch-
ed hitm into exploring when, in
1912, famed movie maker D.
W. Griffith sent him to Mexaro
to film Villa on location.
"Villa was a strong, laiet
man," Von Hoffman said. "He
treated his men pretty good -
but plain. There wasn't any
camarderie. He was just one
of them.
VON HOFFMAN has a pictare
of himself and Villa standing near
one another. Between the two
rough-looking characters is ano-
ther rough-looking character.
There's another picture of him-
self in his collection. The ex
plorer, dressed in smart, warts
clothes, stands on a Moroccan
street while behind him passes a
blur of Moorish life.
In clear focus beside him, ho-
ever, is a woman, so draped in
robes that only her right arm
and a slit for her eyes s h o w
"THAT'S HOW they dressed
me," Von Hoffman said in his
quiet, Russian-accented voic

"And it worked, too."
The governor of Fez, Moroc o
-- know as the Pasha of Fez -
befriended the young Von
Hoffman when he came to his
city. Von Hoffman has a picture
of the Pasha, too, and it siows
a regal-looking Arab, dressed to
robes, a sslemn expression e-
hind his ftll, white beard, re-
clining on his right side, s itr-
rotnded b his court retainers.
"He invited me to a feast,"
Von Hofftnan explained, "atd
while I was there, I told him sty
mother was fros the Russiats
state of Georgia. I didn't k ewv
that he would tell his 36 wires.
"THE MOOR is knowti for his
interest in beautiful wives," Von
Hoffman continued, 'and lots of
Russian women are brought
across the mountains and solt
into harems.
"Peasant women are soid by
their parents," he said. "They
don't become slaves, they be-
came wives."
The next day, as Von Huff.-
man sat in a tea house with toe
British consul, an urchin ap-
proached and handed him a no:e
in badly misspelled Georgian: "If
you will follow this person, he
will bring you to me."
"Who or where was 'me'"
Von Hoffman noted, "I didn't
know. But I did know a lot of
French officers who disappeared,
with their bodies found later i'
the desert. I went anyhow."
HE FOLLOWED the boy to a
building, and there Von Hoffman
was robed in a "caftan" - the
heavy robe - and the special
shoes and thick veil;
The boy led him into the harem
through the slate quarters.
There, Von Hoffman discovered
he'd been summoned by a lonely
wife, who just 'wanted to see
somebody from her ewn people.
"SHE WAS A presty girl wit.
dark hatr Von Ilofman re-
7:00 and 9:30

YouituI ambassaCor speaks
Nicholas Gonzalez-Revilla, 27, Panama's ambassador to the Unite
States talks to a class in modern day political issues at Michiga
State University Thursday. le said there was a possibility
violence between the U.S. and Panama if Panama is not give

control of the Canal Zone.
membered, 'dre-;ne. it, a lon,
silk Arabic dress covered wit-i
flowers and embroide,'} .
"She wasn't happy nor un-
happy," he sai-1. "She was just
homesick. We taskvd for a couple
of hours."
Von Hoffman rae:nbers leav-
ting the harem witn no problem-.
But one thing he can t remetmbe:
is the woman's nao
"THE NAME doesn't matter,"
said the white-hai:ed ola adveo-
turer with a thin smile.
"The ideaa," lie said, "wa
to see the things which were !t)-

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