Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nostalgic in Germany

This is not vacation. I am here to try to bring some smiles and help to my mother and my sister. When I sit with mother (age 88) next to her bed and read her from father's (her late husband of 62 years) memoirs, I can't help but think of the past. My father had been house bound for many years and to keep him fit I had asked him to write down certain things e. g. How was your childhood? How was mother's childhood? How did you meet? etc. I then typed it into the computer and together we would 'fine tune' it. It took several years. I am so happy that I have this. Now - - I should translate it for the children and grandchildren ...

Today I felt like dashing out for a minute and drove to see the house in which I was born. Yes, in this house where my parents and sister lived ... not in a hospital. Muensterstrasse 638 in the 'Resser Mark' (city: Gelsenkirchen). It was winter with thick snow and father had to get the (heavy) midwife on a bicycle. Really!
It was not nearly as nice-looking then. The landlord lived downstairs and another family with us under the roof. It was very crammed but I have good memories of it. Except that I had to go to first grade through the forest to school because even then there were not so nice men. But luckily I did not have to go alone very often. I think we lived there until I was 7 years.

Two days ago I went to my favorite thread store in Resse (sock yarn!). I drove by the church where I was baptized, confirmed and married. These pictures were taken last August though. 

The entry has not changed at all.

The inside has been re-painted ... but much posher then I remember.

Same baptism fond as for baby Christa.

Same organ in the back.

Kalmia (latifolia 'Olympic Fire')
I got diverted on the way to the yarn shop because one street was closed. So I drove a loop to Laerchenstrasse 10 where we moved to after Muensterstrasse when I was about 7 I guess. It is the big house on the corner on the right. I could point to our two livingroom windows on the third floor. One story higher under the roof lived our very good friends who moved from the same house to the same house the same day. We children, my sister Ute, the friend Achim and I had to play in the street. If we used chalk to draw a hopscotch in front of the house we usually got into big trouble with the landlord.

When I took the photo from across the street I saw this bush which looked so nice. Had not seen anything like it. I stepped on the lawn and a women knocked on the glass on the inside of a window. Ups, I thought, I am in trouble. But she only wanted to chat and tell me what it was called. She recognized my name and told me a little about the landlord, who's name was still on the doorbell.

Fridays is market in Herten (where the St Barbara home is and my sister lives). Oh, how I love to go and see markets. My sister is buying some herb plants. I could go crazy. Such a selection!
And a wonderful selection of vegetables and fruit. Strawberries are in season (local). They smelled so strong we had to buy some!
In the afternoon Gero surprised us with a visit. Omi had just slumbered all day but how she perked up when he arrived. She loves children.
His father Tobias had just picked him up from guitar lessons. So I asked whether he would play something for us. James happened to be on the telephone so he could hear it all the way to America.
 On the way from and to St Barbara and Ute's house I am passing this streetcar. When I was an apprentice at a CPA's office in Gelsenkirchen-Buer I had to take the number 10 (?) all the time. It run in the middle of the street. How many times did my heels get stuck in the tracks crossing the street. Even broke a heel totally off ones or twice.
 Ute lives here since she got married. Never moved even ones.
Saturday. Ute and Siegbert asked whether I could drive to Dorsten and take care of our grandparents' grave. That was depressing. The "Friedhof" used to be a nice and peaceful place with one little garden (grave) next to another. But a lot where "undone" (stones  and all taken away) and many neglected. 

After weeding I planted three begonias. Just had to. The florist told me that if you can't come and water every day its the only plant which might survive a little while. I really can't remember German summers like that. Oh well ...
I have such wonderful memories of Oma Grete and Opa Otto. It is amazing what I learned from them and how many times I have to think of them. 
BIG MISTAKE! I couldn't leave it alone. Just around the corner the house my parents and Opa Otto built. Every stone of it!!! I was about 18 and I had to help too ... carting the bricks in a wheelbarrow things like that.  Every weekend. My room was in the basement. We had to sell it when mother couldn't live there by herself any longer.
Visiting it was a mistake. It looked neglected. 

The day got better though. After visiting mother for a while I had invited Ute for lunch. It is SPARGELSEASON. The white asparagus is in season. A big deal here. Not far from Ute are several local farms which prepare meals from their own harvest. This is table decoration?
Spargel und Schnitzel. Ups. I forgot to take the picture before I dug into it. Well, I was hungry.

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful that you were able to spend this time with your mother. I love the picture of your birthplace and I love that you were able to help your father write his biography. My stepdad, Ted, did this – the story of a London-born boy throughout the post WWI and during the WWII years. Momma had copies made and bound for all us ‘girls’ (my 3 stepsisters and me) for Christmas. It was a precious gift.