Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Childhood Memories

This is a picture taken near the little town in Germany where I was born. I have very few photos of my place of birth. I found this on flickr, quite by accident. It is exactly the way I remember it, a picture postcard view with hills and valleys. The little town where I was born is near Giessen, which is about an hour's drive from Frankfurt. The views in the wintertime were breathtaking with clusters of houses nestled on the neighboring hills and everything blanketed in snow.

I lived with my Oma until I was 6 years old. Even as a little girl my grandmother would send me to the butcher with a note and a Deutsch mark clasped in my hand to pay for the purchases. We lived in a tiny, duplex apartment, with no hot running water. We  had a wood stove for heating. Oma's house didn't have shutters, so in freezing weather the window panes would freeze over, on the inside! Oma would put a hot brick under the featherbeds to heat the bed at night. She tended a large garden and kept a large bin of potatoes and root vegetables and apples down in her cellar. The woodshed was stocked for the winter with wood that my uncle chopped. She washed her clothes in a big galvinized washtub, which also served as a tub for bathing. Once a week the tub would be dragged upstairs and the water heated for our baths.

The baker would come around and bring fresh farmer's (bauern brot) bread, still hot from the oven and dusted with flour. That bread, smeared with real butter and homemade jam was the best there was!

Oma had a hard life. She lived through two wars and she and her children were refugees after the second war, forced to leave their farm and everything behind in the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. My grandfather died right after the war, leaving her a widow with nine children.

Here's a picture taken of me right before coming to the USA. I didn't speak a word of English, but picked it up quickly.


Rita said...

Anita, I lived in Mannheim for three years when I was a teenager. Wonderful memories of that time. Sounds like your Oma had a really hard life.

Anita said...

Rita, my brother-in-law and his family lived in Mannheim during the late 70's. I stayed with them for several weeks while we found a place to live.
It's a small world, isn't it?

Jedidja said...

I am sorry your oma had a hard life. I think all Europian women had a hard time during the wars. So mine too. Amazing that they learned to live again after the horrors of bombings and razzias and disordered life!

Love to read about it.