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It was an incredibly effective way to rebel if your father was the police chief. I was always amazed that there were no consequences. Maybe my father was just trying to defuse the situation.
My desire was to leave home in an organized way. Because I was still just a kid, I decided that the best course for independence was to mind my own business and make my own money. I would do any kind of work. I was not shy at all about picking up a shovel and digging. During school vacation one summer, a guy from our village got me a job at a glass factory in Graz where he worked.
My task was to shovel a big mound of broken glass into a wheeled container, cart it across the plant, and pour it into a vat for melting back down. At the end of each day, they gave me cash. The following summer, I heard there might be work at a sawmill in Graz.
I took my schoolbag and packed a little bread-and-butter snack to tide me over until I got home. Then I took the bus to the mill, got up my nerve, walked in, and asked for the owner. They brought me to the office along with my satchel, and there was the owner, sitting in his chair.
I started right then and there and worked at the yard the rest of the holiday. One of my duties was to shovel great mountains of sawdust onto trucks that would take it away. That was a good amount in those days. I knew exactly what to do with the money. So a tracksuit was the first thing I bought. Then with the cash I had left, I bought myself a bicycle. Nobody else in our house owned a bike; my father had bartered his for food after the war and never replaced it.
In the event of nuclear war, sirens would sound. We were supposed to close our books and hide under our desks with our heads between our knees and our eyes squeezed shut. Even a kid could figure out how pathetic that was.
Kennedy, and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev. Very few families had a television at home, but we all knew an electrical shop in the Lendplatz in Graz that had two TVs in the window. We ran down and stood on the sidewalk watching news reports on the meetings. But we watched! We were part of the action. We were living in a frightening situation. Every time Russia and America argued about anything, we felt we were doomed. Chairman, there will be a war. It will be a cold, long winter. He was away a week until the crisis cooled down.
My class of thirty or so adolescent boys was full of testosterone, but nobody wanted a war. Our interest was more in girls. They were a mystery, especially for kids like me who did not have sisters, and the only time we got to see them at school was in the courtyard before class because they were taught in their own wing of the building. How do you talk to them? Our first class of the day was math. We better talk about this.
But today he was on a nonviolent track. Eventually you want to kiss them, you want to hug them, and you want to make love to them.
Is that the way you express your love? Where did you figure that out? We realized that if you wanted a girl, you had to make an effort to have a conversation, not just drool like a horny dog.
You had to establish a comfort level. And I took these tips and carefully stored them away. During the very last week of class, I had a revelation about my future. It came to me during an essay-writing assignment, of all things. The history teacher always liked to pick four or five kids and pass out pages of the newspaper and make us write reports discussing whatever article or photo interested us.
This time, as it happened, I was picked, and he handed me the sports page. On it was a photo of Mr. Austria, Kurt Marnul, setting a record in the bench press: kilograms. But what really struck me was that he was wearing glasses.
They were distinctive; a little tinted. I associated glasses with intellectuals: teachers and priests. Yet here was Kurt Marnul lying on the bench with his tank-top shirt and tiny waist, an enormous chest, and this huge weight above his chest—and he had on glasses. I kept staring at the picture.
How could someone who looked like a professor from the neck up be bench-pressing kilos? I read it out loud and was pleased when I got a good laugh. But I came away fascinated that a man could be both smart and powerful.
Along with my new interest in girls, I was more conscious of my body. I was beginning to pay close attention to sports: looking at athletes, how they worked out, how they used their bodies.
A year before, it meant nothing; now it meant everything. As soon as school ended, my friends and I all made a beeline for the Thalersee. I quickly started making friends among the boxers, wrestlers, and other athletes. He let me be his sidekick and help with his work.
Willi was a good all-around athlete. He had this whole routine of using the park as his gym, doing chinups on the trees, push-ups and squats in the dirt, running up the trails, and doing standing jumps. Willi was friends with a pair of brothers who were really well developed. One was in university and one was a little younger. They were lifters, bodybuilders, and the day I met them, they were practicing shot put.
They asked if I wanted to try, and started teaching me the turns and steps. Then we went up to that tree where Willi was doing chin-ups again.
I managed one or two reps, and then I slipped off. And I bet your lats would grow a centimeter on each side. From then on, I did the exercises with him every day. We rode up in a car with a bunch of guys, a four-hour drive. The trip took longer than we thought, so we only we got there for the last event, which was the super-heavyweight lifters. The winner was an enormous Russian named Yuri Vlasov. There were thousands of people in the auditorium yelling and screaming after he pressed The weight lifting was followed by a bodybuilding contest, Mr.
World, and this was my first time seeing guys oiled up and pumped and posing, showing off their physiques. Afterward we got to go backstage and see Vlasov in person.
A year later, though, everything was starting to register, and I realized I wanted to be strong and muscular. Universe, Reg Park. It turned out that he had actually been present when Kurt Marnul set the record in the bench press.
You know, the guy that you saw in the picture? So I waited around with one of my classmates. We were swimming and having our usual mud fights when finally Marnul showed up with a beautiful girl. He wore a tight T-shirt and dark slacks and those same tinted glasses.
We were all flipping out. How unbelievable he looked! He was known for having gigantic deltoid and trapezius muscles, and sure enough, his shoulders were huge. And he had the small waist, the ridged abdominal muscles—the whole look. Then the girl who was with him put on her bathing suit—a bikini—and she also looked stunning.
We said hello and then just kind of hovered, watching while they swam. Now I was definitely inspired. Marnul came to the lake all the time, it turned out, often with the most fantastic girls.
He was nice to me and my friend Karl Gerstl because he knew he was our idol. Marnul would give us exercises. The oldest was a heavyset guy in his forties named Mui. He had been a professional wrestler in his heyday; now he just worked out with weights. Like Marnul, Mui was a bachelor. He lived on a government stipend and was a professional student at the university; a cool guy, very political and smart, who spoke fluent English. He played an essential role in our group because he translated the English and American muscle magazines as well as Playboy.
We always had girls around—girls who wanted to work out with us or just fool around. Europe was always far less puritanical than the United States. Dealing with the body was much more open—less hiding, less weirdness. My friends would vacation at nudist colonies in Yugoslavia and France. It made them feel free.
And with its hillsides, bushes, and trails, the Thalersee was a perfect playground for lovers. Our group fantasy that summer was that we were living like gladiators. We were rolling back time, drinking pure water and red wine, eating meat, having women, running through the forest working out, and doing sports.
He was the only real brain in the bunch, a solidly built guy with thick glasses who seemed more like a friend than a dad.
Fredi was a politician, and he and his wife ran the two biggest tobacco and magazine kiosks in Graz. On Sundays he and his wife would put their boxer on a leash and walk around the lake, with Karl and me tagging along. You never knew what Fredi was going to come up with next. The dog would howl in accompaniment, and Karl and I would get embarrassed and walk farther and farther behind him.
Fredi was the source of the gladiator idea.
They knew how to train! The idea of balancing the body and the mind was like a religion for him. Kurt was totally charming and hip.
He was perfect for us because he was Mr. He had the body and the girls and held the record in the bench press, and he drove an Alfa Romeo convertible. As I got to know him, I studied his whole routine. His day job was as the foreman of a road construction crew. He started work early in the morning and finished at three. Then he would put in three hours at the gym, training hard. There was no shortcut; you earned it. Marnul was into beautiful girls. He knew how to find them anywhere: at restaurants, at the lake, at sports fields.
The Thalersee was a key part of his routine. A typical guy would simply ask a girl out for a drink after work, but not Kurt. He always had a blanket and another bottle of wine in the car. The guy was smooth. Seeing him in action sped up the process in me that the math teacher had begun. We all did. And the girls responded! Kurt and the others saw potential in me because in a short period of training, I grew and gained a lot of strength.
At the end of the summer, they invited me to come work out in Graz where they had weights. The Athletic Union gym was down under the stands of the public soccer stadium; a big concrete room with overhead lights and the most basic equipment, barbells and dumbbells and chin-up bars and benches.
It was full of big men puffing and heaving. The guys from the lake showed me how to do some basic lifts, and for the next three hours, I happily worked in, doing dozens upon dozens of presses and squats and curls. But nobody told me that. The regulars at the stadium gym liked to trick the new guys. They egged me on so that I did ten sets of each exercise. Then I put on my clothes and walked outside.
Then I got on my bike and fell off. I veered off to the side and fell into a ditch. It was pitiful. I gave up on riding the bike. I ended up having to walk it home, an epic four-mile hike. That summer had a miraculous effect on me. Instead of existing, I started to live. I was catapulted out of the dull routine of Thal—where you get up, you get the milk from next door, come home and do your push-ups and sit-ups while your mother makes the breakfast and your father gets ready for work—the routine where there was really nothing much to look forward to.
Now all of a sudden there was joy, there was struggle, there was pain, there was happiness, there were pleasures, there were women, there was drama. This is really terrific! All of a sudden, I had a whole new life, and it was mine. I entered the vocational school in Graz and started my apprenticeship. Although I was still living at home, the gym in many ways replaced my family. The older guys helped the younger ones. Karl Gerstl became one of my training partners, and we learned the joy of inspiring each other, pumping each other up, competing in a positive way.
There were muscle-building and weightlifting publications in German, but the US ones were by far the best, with our friend Mui providing the translations. The magazines were our bible for training, for nutrition, for different ways to make protein drinks to build muscles, for working with a training partner. The magazines had a way of promoting bodybuilding as a golden dream. Every issue had pictures of champions and details about their training routines. We all knew the name of the publisher, Joe Weider, who was sort of the Hugh Hefner of the muscle world: he owned the magazines, had his picture and column in every issue, and included his wife, Betty, a gorgeous model, in almost every beach shot.
Soon life at the gym totally consumed me. Training was all I could think about. One Sunday when I found the stadium locked, I broke in and worked out in the freezing cold. I had to wrap my hands in towels to keep them from sticking to the metal bars. Week by week I would see the gains I was making in how much I could lift, the number of reps my muscles would tolerate, the shape of my body and its overall mass and weight. I became a regular member of the Athletic Union team.
I was so proud that I, little Arnold Schwarzenegger, was in a club with Mr. Austria, the great Kurt Marnul. But training seemed something I was born for, and I sensed that it would become my ticket out of Thal. Every painful set, every extra rep, was a step toward my goal of winning Mr. Austria and entering the Mr. Europe competition. On the cover was Mr. Inside were pictures of Reg posing, working out, winning as Mr.
Universe for the second year in a row, shaking hands with Joe Weider, and chatting on Muscle Beach with the legendary Steve Reeves, an earlier Mr. Universe who had also starred in Hercules films.
I could barely wait to track down Mui and find out what the article said. This story crystallized a new vision for me. I could become another Reg Park. All my dreams suddenly came together and made sense. They would be the thing that everyone in the world would know me for. Movies would bring money—I was sure that Reg Park was a millionaire— and the best-looking girls, which was a very important aspect.
In weeks that followed, I refined this vision until it was very specific. I was going to go for the Mr. Universe title; I was going to break records in power lifting; I was going to Hollywood; I was going to be like Reg Park. The vision became so clear in my mind that I felt like it had to happen. There was no alternative; it was this or nothing. My mother noticed right away that something was different.
I was coming home with a big smile. I told her that I was training, and she could see I found joy in becoming stronger. But as the months went by, she started to get concerned about my obsession. There were boxers, professional wrestlers, weight lifters, and power lifters.
Most of all, there were bodybuilders posing, especially Reg Park and Steve Reeves. I was proud of my wall. It looked really good, the way I had it all laid out.
But it really worried my mom. Finally one day she decided to seek professional advice and flagged down the doctor when he drove up the road on his usual rounds. I was in the living room doing my homework but I could still hear most of the conversation. Posters, magazines, colored pictures of girls. And look at him. Naked men.
Boys always need inspiration. This is actually good; nothing for you to worry about. Arnold, tell them how much weight you are lifting. That spring she discovered how much things had changed. Some of the little kids from the neighborhood helped us pound in the stakes. It was just the right size for two people, and it had a zipper flap. After the kids went away, the girl and I went inside and started making out. She made a big scene, called the girl a tramp and a whore, and stormed back up the hill to our house.
The poor girl was mortified; I helped her pull down the tent, and she ran off. Back at the house, my mother and I had a fight. Not around my house. But I was really mad. I just wanted to live my life! Growing of rose can be used as treatment modalities in horticultural therapy. Rose gardening should assume importance in the school curriculum and this may act as an agent for improving social, psychological and physical development of children. For highly urbanized society, school gardens are but one of the many other fields of education for enhancing the quality of life.
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