Thursday, July 24, 2014

Recent homemade cards

The Bauers, or some of them, have settled into a tradition of making cards for B-Days and such, complete with our own drawings and graphics and such. Annie & Roy established the practice as routine several years ago, but, long before that, Annie (and others?) made the occasonal card. The practice goes back at least to the seventies. Annie used to be much more into drawing than she is now. Lots of pen and ink. (See here.)
But sometimes these days, as an occasion approaches, Annie and I fail to get together to produce the card (I usually produce something and then Annie gussies it up with her more professional style) and so someone ends up doing it solo
Such is the case here: Annie produced this card above (on her and Roy's behalf) for Ma's B-Day in 2013.
(Roy wants to add the following: we virtually always make these cards quickly and without deliberation. It's the way we used to write songs, too, back in the day. I often wonder: Gosh, what would we come up with if we ever took our time and thought about what we were doing? --We'll never know.)

A close-up of the back of the card
Typical of Annie's, um, themes

I do believe that "the kids" made this card for Roy's B-Day in 2014. Here's the front.
I think Sarah did the cover (or front). The kid has talent!

And here's the back.
Teddy's a popular guy!

The inside of the card.

In this case, Roy was forced to go solo, making a card (on behalf of Annie, Kathie, et al.)—in this case, for Mother's Day, 2014

Inside the card.

No doubt, I left out some recent cards. I'll likely be adding them later.
I should point out that Kathie is famous for her great taste in purchasing marvelous store-bought cards, usually with paintings on the front. Don't mean to ignore that. My folks really prize her cards, upon which she writes wonderful sentiments.


I drained this one of color. Interesting effect.

Sarah's, I think.
One of the little ones did this.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dear diary

Punctured bumper, tweaked trunk hood and exhaust
Untimely debates

     After lunch, apropos of nothing, Pa stated that he always leaves the mailman a Christmas gift.
     But (thought I), it’s July. Why is he saying this now?
     “Mailmen can’t accept tips,” declared Annie. “They’d get fired if they did.”
     All heads turned to Pa.
     “Well,” said Pa, “our mailman accepted my twenty dollar bill.”
     All heads turned to Annie.
     “Well, I was a federal worker,” declared Annie, suggesting that that settled the matter.
     I could listen no more. I left the building.

Fire down below

     A couple of hours later, Annie and I briefly spoke with Ma. (Pa was off somewhere.) Recently, I had decided to buy my folks a new TV—the old one (a 48 incher) seems so puny up there on the vast living room chimney—and so I explored with her the possibility of installing the new TV on the wall to the right, which, owing to the shape of their living room, would make the TV screen easier to see. As things are, the distance between my folks, in their comfy chairs, and their TV (and sound system) seems absurd to me. When I come across my folks' remote viewing, I often think: “no wonder they always fall asleep watching TV; it’s like they’re in the back row of a drive-in.”
     To make a long story short, from the start of our conversation, Ma seemed troubled by this whole business (i.e., getting a new TV), and especially the business about moving the TV to another wall.
     I finally said: “OK, you clearly don’t want to move the TV from the chimney to this wall. Why?”
     The answer (not in so many words) seemed to be this: with the present TV viewing configuration, the large French doors—i.e., windows—are just to the left of the TV viewer, affording a view to the canyon. Ipso facto the current configuration permits monitoring for fires. If things changed so that the TV viewer faced the wall to the right, he or she would no longer be able to maintain fire watch.
     Annie and I took this in. I said:
     “That’s just nutty.” (I briefly considered mentioning the possibility of their donning rear-view mirrors. But I decided against it.)
     Ma then said essentially that, nutty or no, that’s how she feels.
     There was a pause. Feeling quite wise, I then declared that I was “throwing in the towel” on this TV-location issue. “OK,” I said. “We’re gonna put the new TV on the chimney again. It's settled. So let’s move on.”
     With some effort, that’s what we did.

Catty* behavior

     I usually take Teddy the Cat with me to lunch with my folks. My folks love Teddy the Cat. They treat him like a beloved angel-child.
     Teddy, like all cats, is a kind of contrarian. Ask him if he wants something, and the answer is inevitably “no”—unless it is “yes,” and so you give it to ‘im, whereupon he’ll reject it.
     So he invariably resists my efforts to take him anywhere, even if it’s where he wants to go.
     Teddy’s pretty smart, and he generally senses when I’m planning to take him somewhere (I have no clue how he does that), and so, when it’s time to drive down to the folks for lunch, he hides or otherwise makes himself unavailable. The darned guy is always one step ahead of me.
     I don’t know how to read that. He doesn’t seem to dislike being at my folks’ place. They shower him with attention, and the place is pretty pleasant (despite my folks’ peculiar aversion to fresh air). Plus, I often leave him there for the afternoon, and when I pick him up (usually at about 6:00 p.m.), he seems annoyed that I’m taking him back home. My guess is that he doesn’t like being picked up and moved (that’s clear), and he doesn’t like the car ride, despite its seeming pleasantness for all concerned.
     (My folks' dining room table sits in what is called the "sun room," which is surrounded by windows. There's even a sky light in the ceiling. Owing to the skylight, when the ceiling fan is on (something I usually arrange, since conditions in the house invariably resemble a sauna), the resulting shadows produce a kind of flickering light on the table top. It's a small thing, not worth mentioning.
     (But no. When, during a meal, Annie experiences this singular horror, she always takes her place setting and moves to the table inside, maybe ten feet away. She continues conversing with the relatively light insensitive folks she leaves behind. Naturally, to be heard, she is compelled to bellow. The scene is comical, I suppose.
     (I occasionally tell my sister that, if I were married to her, I would certainly have to kill her.)
     So, today, just as I was about to leave for lunch, I looked for Teddy, and, already, he was under the dining table, standing there, thereby maximizing evasion opportunities. (A prostrate cat is easily captured.) I didn’t try to pull him out from under there, as I often do. “OK,” I told him. “I’ll see you later, little man. Try to be good.”
     He just stood and stared in silence, under the table, concerned and bewildered, as I closed the front door.
     When I got back about an hour or so later, he seemed slightly distressed, which isn’t that unusual. I gave ‘im some food, and then I went to the bedroom with my laptop.
     Pretty soon, he came up to me on the bed, seeking to climb on my chest. He does that, but not often. He positioned his face about an inch from mine.
     To make a long story short, he wanted to be close to me and to be reassured. I do believe young Teddy felt bad about how things had gone earlier.
     Cats can be like that, I find. Sensitive creatures.

Teddy, up on Teddy Hill
A smashing afternoon

     Eventually, Annie and I headed for Best Buy to check out the TVs. We found one we liked—a 60 inch Samsung—and arranged for BB’s “Geek Squad” to come install it next Tuesday.
     On the drive back home, up on Glenn Ranch Road, we saw a ceiling fan fall off the back of a construction truck just ahead of us. The fan sported some glass fixtures, which, upon crashing to the pavement,  immediately exploded into tiny bits of glass. The whole fan assembly bounced around and then settled in the middle of the street. We managed to drive around it OK, though over glass.
     It seemed that the driver of the construction truck was unaware of what happened, and so I sped up to catch up to him, maybe two or three hundred yards up the road. He was already at the next intersection (Saddleback Ranch Rd.), in a left-turn lane. I stayed in the leftmost left lane for thru-traffic. I was maybe a hundred feet from the intersection, and my light was red. The guy in the truck had a green light and was about to drive off. I quickly motioned to him (actually, to the guy in his passenger seat) that he had left something behind back on the road.
     That’s when it happened. All of a sudden, we were struck hard from behind. We squashed briefly into our backrests and then lurched forward with the rest of the car. Loose stuff inside the car flew back. I’ve been rear-ended pretty hard before, but this episode seemed especially violent. I could see the culprit in my rear view mirror; he was in a large white GMC work truck, or something like it.
     I quickly got my bearings and drove ahead to park on the side of Glenn Ranch Road (the light had turned green by then). The guy in the white truck followed and parked just ahead of us. The fan guy quickly evaded the scene. I recall Annie saying, “Look at that guy, speeding away from the scene.”
     I won’t go into the details. Essentially, the two circular iron fixtures (for pulling?) jutting from below the white truck’s front bumper rammed into my Chrysler’s rear bumper, puncturing it and otherwise messing it up. The collision was pretty fierce, and so the bottom of the Chrysler’s trunk lid was slightly deformed (see photo); plus it was slightly higher than the car body on the right side.
     I won’t go into the details of the episode. We all seemed to be unhurt. Nothing interesting happened, really.
     We eventually drove off, dropping by Gary’s place to get his quick assessment. By then, we had started to smell burning rubber. That turned out to be the bumper melting because the tail pipe had been bent into it. Gary grabbed a large screwdriver and leveraged the pipe into a better position. We talked about the damage and what could be done about it.
     I hate when this shit happens.

All is well

     All is well, now, I guess. I don’t think Annie or I (or the GMC driver) were injured in any way. The Chrysler looks pretty normal until you get up close to it.
     I’ll get it fixed, I guess.
     What a bummer.

     Right now (the day after), I’m in my bedroom. Mr. BooBoo (aka Teddy) is sleeping against my left leg. And I’m typing on my laptop, as I often do.
     Annie’s off to the OC fair with some guy.
     After a while, I’ll take the Teddy Boy outside, and he’ll be free and happy.
     Maybe I’ll pick up the camera and take some pics.
     The weather’s beautiful.

Teddy and his world
Great song; in this lovely version, the guitar solo is to die for. I do believe the guitarist was a guy named Jerry Mathews. I've found it difficult to find info about him.

*I'm reminded that Tante Mariane (Marian Eggers) invariably refers to Kathie as "Catty." Charming.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hearing oddly

     Yesterday, I awoke at about 9:00 a.m.—I’m a bit of a night owl, I’m afraid—and I was vaguely aware of the roaring of some machine, like an air conditioning unit.
     I never turn on my AC. I hate it, don’t want to bother with it, even in the heat of summer or fall.
     Doesn’t seem to work worth a damn anyway.
     So why would I be hearing an AC unit? And what else is there out here, in the middle of nowhere, really, that could make such a racket?
     Not that I let it trouble me. One would think that, at some point, I’d attempt to determine the source of the roar. I mean, it was a roar. But no. I just got up and did what I do, which ain’t much. Was there still a roar? I don’t know. Think so. Maybe not.
     Later, at night, I think I was vaguely aware of that roar again. Was it from across the canyon? Sound can carry in surprising ways in these hills. Was it coming from my own house, from the AC unit just below the balcony?
     I ignored the question. Went about my business, which was next to nothing.
     I do odd things. A few weeks ago, I brought one of my crummy little fans into my bedroom and directed it at where I sleep on the bed. Turned it on. Just kept it on, permanent-like.
     It’s an old, shitty, plastic fan. If it has bearings, they’re shot, and so the thing gets noisy, but only intermittently. Sometimes, the noise is unpleasant and distracting. But that's not enough to inspire me to turn the fan off. I ask myself, “Why don’t you just turn that thing off?” I've got no answer. And time passes.
     Part of me wants that fan going, like a second dimension of time running continuously. 
     Hoarders are like that, I bet. The hoard means continuity, familiarity. "Don't rock the boat." Adding stuff doesn't really change anything. Taking stuff away does. So things grow, get crazy.
     The fan is close enough to my bed that, at times, it hides and obscures other sounds, like the roar of an AC unit. My poor hearing doesn't help.
     And then there’s my CPAP (“continuous positive air pressure” unit), which I use to overcome sleep apnea. I’ve been “sleep studied” at least twice. Both times, I was found to experience one apnea (cessation of breathing) per minute during sleep. It’s a real problem. So I use my CPAP almost religiously.
     It roars, especially when it’s turned on but not attached to my face, as sometimes happens. I sometimes sleep next to this artificial storm. 
     When it causes sinus pain, about a tenth of the time, half awake, I remove that lousy CPAP. That can lead to episodes of sudden waking and choking—or painful tongue bitings. The latter are merely painful, but the choking—well, that can lead to panic. That’s bad.
* * *
     It can happen, I think, that one experiences something terrible—it can be a "something" too disorderly or nebulous to name, somehow lost in the past—and it yields, thereafter, like hideous offspring, an odd assortment of panic triggers, leaving one endlessly vulnerable to rapidly escalating panic episodes. This is liable to be one's nature for the rest of one's sorry Earthly existence, a permanent vulnerability to panic and, potentially, to stunningly horrifying fully-realized attacks, the extremity of which, I'm sure, cannot be imagined by those who have not experienced them. At any rate, speaking for myself, after decades of depression, that having inspired a complacent self-regard as a worldly sufferer, I was astonished to find this further and more terrifying chamber in the catacomb of horrors.
     One would not describe me and my life correctly without noting this dismal characteristic, this availability to the brink of dismal, ignoble (if temporary) disintegration. I don’t talk about it much, though I think about it often. Not proud of it. I acknowledge it.
     I try hard not to give way to panic, and I’m pretty good at nipping these seedling monsters in the bud. Their bloom follows a geometric progression, a slippery slope, a camel's nose under the base of the tent. Gotta catch 'em early or not at all. I generally manage that.
     So what. The possibility of serious panic hovers and looms nevertheless, and one reasonably wonders whether novel and unimagined triggers lie in wait. I am a cracked self and I dearly desire to be mended. I want to make the repair, leave this all behind me. Can’t seem to manage that. 
     I can’t believe I’m alone in this dismal, ruinous defectiveness. Surely it is as common as dirt. But the public mind seems not to include recognition of this curious infirmity (except maybe in the case of PTS veterans), and that is endlessly disorienting. It’s like living in a world in which everybody seems to worry about rainstorms, and you—well, you’re always fretting about the very real prospect of tsunamis
     I try. For instance, I try to get as many normal (panic-free) days under my belt as possible. I figure that makes normal days more likely. I think so, hope so.
     I just checked. My AC is off. But or course. I never turned it on.
     So what was I hearing?
     And why didn’t I just go outside and determine the source of this sound?
     —Wait! Is that the sound of laundry I hear?
* * *
     One of Annie’s old friends, Allan, came to visit her for the weekend. I gather that he arrived Friday night and then attended the “Born Free” motorcycle event near Irvine Lake held on Saturday and Sunday. Allan enjoys motorcycles, I guess, but mostly he sells his motorcycle art (paintings, I think) at shows. I figured that’s why he was down here in Southern California. But I dunno. Don’t much care either. Allan is a real knucklehead. (I'm sure I should be more sympathetic toward him. He's not a bad guy.)
     Annie had prepared a kind of “room” for him in the future patio area outside her front door—an elaborate tent, I think. Annie tends to go overboard with these things. You’d swear the Queen of England were visiting. But, look, it’s just Allan. Goofy old Allan.
     For some reason, neither Annie nor Allan have come around my folks place, or my place, during the weekend. I do not find this remarkable at all, but my mom is all over it. She does that.
     I think my dad has encountered Annie (or the both of them) in passing, here and there, but that’s about it. Annie and Allan have pretty much kept to themselves. No doubt Annie has been working down at Home Depot between “visiting.” 
* * *
     So, today, Tuesday, I came down to the folks for lunch, bringing young Teddy with me. In the last three or four weeks, I have generally gone to lunch down there and I've brought Teddy, ‘cuz my folks seem to like to have him there. They love cats and they especially love Teddy, who is, they seem to think, a “good boy.” He is. (Animals bring out the best in Bauers.)
     I had no idea what was going on with Allan’s visit. Was he still around? How did it go? I wondered if my folks knew anything.
     My mom said:
     “Allan and Annie came by last night (Monday night). They were very friendly. He was especially friendly.”
     My mom went on to describe this episode. Evidently, Allan had even asked about me. 
     My dad joined the conversation, describing Allan as (1) boastful (“we think of Annie as boastful, but you shoulda heard Allan last night”), (2) friendly (all smiles, very appreciative), and (3) falsely flattering.
     But dad had trouble communicating the latter point.
     Said dad: “He reminded me of Beaver in that old TV show. Remember the Beaver show?”
     My mom interrupted: “Good afternoon, Mrs. Cleaver,” she said, managing to sound falsely polite, like Eddie Haskell.
     “No, you don’t mean Beaver,” I said. “You mean Beaver’s brother’s friend. I can’t think of his name.” (I couldn't.) I tried to remember it. Nothing doing.
     “Yeah,” said mom. “He was always trying to be good and polite.”
     “No,” I said, rather bluntly. “He was not trying to be good or polite. He was a total phony. That’s what he was about on that show. That’s what you mean to say, right?”
     “Yes,” said my dad. “Beaver would say, ‘Hello, Mr. Cleaver.’” He managed a tone of false flattery.
     “OK,” I said. “There was Beaver, who was just a good little kid, and then there was Wally, his older brother, also a good kid, but then there was Wally’s friend Eddie Haskell, who was a piece of shit.”
     “Yes! That’s his name,” says Ma. “Eddie Haskell!”
     “Right,” I said. “Eddie wasn’t trying to be good. He was trying to be bad, more or less. He put on this phony politeness, and Mrs. Cleaver saw right through it.”
     “Yeah, Beaver,” says my dad. “The show was called 'Leave it to Beaver.' That's it!”
* * *
     Eventually, I asked:
     “So, when will Allan return home?”
     When I ask questions at my folks, these days, I always address them to my mom, ‘cuz if you direct anything to my dad, he'll inevitably respond with a fully automatic “What?!” You could scream “fire!” or “how you doin?” right in his face and he’d still just say, “What?!” It’s involuntary, like blinking or gagging.
     Somehow, Ma wasn’t listening to me, so I asked again,
     “So, when will Allan return?”
     “I don’t know. He could return again. It has to do with money, I think.”
     I found this answer to be puzzling. I allowed myself to show puzzlement—nothing more. (More is always available, never good.)
     “I don’t know when he’ll return,” she said, again. “It could be any time.”
     “No,” I said. “I’m asking when he’ll be returning home.”
     “Like I told you, I don’t know,” she said. “He could arrive here any time.”
     “Arrive here? When people are on a trip and then return home, they return to their home. They don’t return to your home.”
     “Sure they do. He might leave where he is now and come here, right here. He could do that now.”
     I paused. I then said, “Has Allan returned home, by which I mean his home in the Bay Area?”
     “Yes, last night,” said Ma.
     I paused. “Oh.” (If she knows that he left for home--i.e., the Bay Area--last night, why is she saying that, right now, he could arrive here at any time? Good grief my brain hurts.)
     “He said he had to be at work at 8:00 in the morning,” said Ma.
     I asked: “He left last night but he was at work this morning at 8:00?”
     “Yes, I guess so.”
     We dropped the subject.
* * *
     A few minutes later, I was about to leave for my place, and I wanted to know whether my folks wanted me to leave Teddy for the afternoon. I was trying to ask: “do you value his staying with you?” Unlike some people I know, I don’t ask inexplicably indirect or bizarre questions, saying one thing and meaning something else entirely. For instance, I wasn’t asking if they would be willing to entertain Teddy for the afternoon. In fact, Teddy always snoozes in the afternoon. And I wasn't asking, say, whether they want to adopt Teddy as their cat. Nope. I think I was pretty clear.
     I was in fact thinking about their interests, not my or Teddy’s interests. Is it a burden to them for me to leave the boy there? Are they pleased to have him there? That’s what I was trying to ask. Sheesh. (How can it be that, after all these years, these people don’t know that I always concern myself with others’ interests, not my own interests? I do this, of course, to a fault.)
     But my folks, especially my mom, not only speak oddly, they hear oddly.
     I said, “I’m leaving now. Thanks for lunch. Do you want me to leave Teddy here? I mean, do you want him here? ‘Cuz I can just take him with me, no problem.”
     Ma refused to hear my question. She hears another. She said,
     “Sure, it’s OK if he’s here.”
     “No, I want to know if you want him here, because, if not, that’s OK. I’ll just take him.”
     “Well, I might not be able to play with him, if that’s what you mean. I’ll be pretty busy.” (Doing what?, I wondered.)
     I said: “That’s not what I mean. I just want to know whether you actually want him here. If you do, great, then tell me, and I’ll leave him. But I’m happy to take him with me.”
     “Like I said, I might not have time to play with him,” said Ma.
     I gave up. I said, “Well, I’ll leave him here and pick him up later. You don’t have to play with him. He’ll likely just sleep there on that couch all day.”
     My dad entered the fray: “He’s there on that couch by the front door most of the afternoon. He obviously likes it there. He wants to be there.”
     OK. You'll get no argument from me.
     Then my mom: “He’s so cute there. He stretches a lot, holds Bugsy’s old Bunny. He loves to snooze and stretch and play with that bunny. He's so cute!”
     I left.
* * *
     I’ve got tinnitus and related hearing infirmities. I can think of a few episodes that caused or contributed to that—including two gun episodes with Ray.
     I’ve always been generous with Ray in that respect. I never let myself think that his irresponsible and reckless ways have had such a permanent, negative impact on my life. I am inclined to give ‘im a pass.
     Still, I am sometimes very aware of the ringing in my ears. It’s a drag. I want to experience the world as it is, but no. There’s that infernal ringing.
     And I’m eccentric enough as it is without having to deal with this constant skewed hearing. There’s a loud noise, and everyone immediately looks to the left, but I’m looking to the right. Or I don't hear anything at all. It weirds people out. And it totally weirds me out when I'm weirding people out. Weird, ain't it?
     When you're kind of deaf, you can sometimes seem not to listen to people or to be insensitive to them—and so on. I really hate that. I need to know what's going on in my environment. I'm very self-conscious, I guess. I used to be pathological about it. Now, not so much, I think. 
     I am aware, too, that ear ringing can become a source of panic. That damn noise can seem like walls closing in, like sinking ever deeper in a black lake, like shrinking into nothingness or being buried alive or smothered by great weight.
     But so far so good. How delightful.
* * *
     In the last few days, I’ve gotten back to music.
     Oh my Lord, how could I have lived without it? It's magic in a magicless world.
     Ray loved the Mothers of Invention. I have long loved the early Mothers, but only selectively. Loved the doo-wop stuff. Not the crazy experimental instrumentals.
     But now I have learned to love the band's music more generally, the way Ray did.
     Saw a performance of the MOI recorded in Britain in 1968, I think. It was great. I was transfixed. Nutty stuff. Great stuff.
     I do hope Ray and I were enjoying the same things. Sharing is good, even if it's on different points on the timeline.
     Hearing and loving the same sounds, with Ray.
     Sad. But good.

UPDATE: Monday, June 7, about 10:30 p.m. Got up from a chair and suddenly experienced difficulty breathing. Immediately found myself plummeting downward from atop that slippery slope. Made enormous effort for about 1-2 minutes to catch myself, stop the descent. Somehow succeeded. But I was rattled and worried for several hours. Sheesh.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Marthe Hänfler's whatchamacallit and her Textilreiniger gig

1899: stain removal
Marthe, Edith, Otto, c. 1940
     Today: more about Marthe Hänfler (né Schultz), my mother (i.e., Edith)’s stepmother. Naturally, Edith tends to refer to Marthe simply as her mother. (Edith's biological mother died c. 1934, when Edith was a year old.) Marthe, along with her husband Otto (Otto Hänfler, 1891-1941), raised Edith in the Pomeranian village of Bärwalde, which is about 100 miles east of Stettin and more than 200 miles east of Berlin.
     Earlier this week, I spoke with Edith about Marthe. Once I focused on identifying Marthe's somewhat nebulous trade, our conversation settled into a version of Burns and Allen's comedy routine. Naturally (and unavoidably), I played the part of George.
     But I did manage to get some useful information.
     This much is clear: Marthe, a private contractor, worked out of her home to clean and treat fine fabrics, using a kind of wooden contraption that stretched fabric as it dried. Often, this assembly would be left outside to allow the fabrics to dry. During the winter, the drying occurred in the basement.
     But what was such a tradesperson called? And what was this contraption called?
     Ma says that Marthe and her sister (Elsa?) both moved to Berlin (again, over two hundred miles to the west) for four years to learn that trade, perhaps starting, as usual for young Germans, at age 13 or 14, which, for Marthe, would have been 1903-4. Of course, until then, they lived in Bärwalde with the rest of the Schultz family. (Eventually, Marthe [and Elsa] worked part-time at the Berlin opera. One can see them in their opera outfits in the one surviving Schultz family photo. See below.)

     Evidently, customers would bring in expensive curtains and other articles for cleaning and treatment (ironing, starching, etc.). First, says Ma, an article would be cleaned, and then stretched on some kind of large wooden rack made of four lengths of wood, sprouting numerous tiny pins (tenterhooks) to hold the fabric. This contraption would be used to manipulate the article to its proper shape—or, alternatively, to insure that it would keep its shape. Evidently, Marthe’s work also occasionally involved starching (and ironing?).
     The contraption, she says, somehow comprised two parts that clamped together. Ma wasn’t particularly clear about any of this.
"ES": Edith Schultz
     Ma has always left the impression that her stepmother's work involved fine articles—drapes, curtains, garments—of the kind that only wealthy customers owned. This meant, evidently, that many of Marthe’s clients were Jewish and at least several of these customers became close friends. You’ll recall that, on the occasion of her baptism (February, 1935, Bärwalde), Ma received a crocheted lace cloth with a star of David from a Jewish friend who was one of her mom's customers.
     I’ve done a little research, and I’ve discovered that, in English, the contraption Marthe used is called a “tenter.” “Tentering” is the process in the manufacturing of fabrics or textiles whereby individual (initially wet) pieces are stretched to maintain a particular width or proportion as they are dried and finished. Manufacturers use long, continuous tentering (or "stentoring") frames. “Tentering” and “tentering frames” are central terms in textile manufacture, it seems.

     Presumably, the enterprise of preservation and maintenance of textile or fabric articles also entails tentering. Again, as near as I can tell, the contraption that Marthe Hänfler used would be called a “tenter” in English.
     I’ve been unable to find a term for Marthe’s kind of vocation in English (let alone in German), though I’ve found related terms. For instance, under the heading “fulling” in Wikipedia, we find this:
Fulling or tucking or walking ("waulking" in Scotland) is a step in woolen clothmaking which involves the cleansing of cloth (particularly wool) to eliminate oils, dirt, and other impurities, and making it thicker. The worker who does the job is a fuller, tucker, or walker…. Fulling involves two processes, scouring and milling (thickening). Originally, fulling was carried out by pounding the woolen cloth with the fuller's feet, or hands, or a club. In Scottish Gaelic tradition, this process was accompanied by waulking songs, which women sang to set the pace. From the medieval period, however, fulling often was carried out in a water mill. These processes are followed by stretching the cloth on great frames known as tenters, to which it is attached by tenterhooks. It is from this process that the phrase being on tenterhooks is derived, as meaning to be held in suspense. The area where the tenters were erected was known as a tenterground.
     Marthe Hänfler was not a fuller, of course, for she was not working on wool, and she was not engaged in “thickening.” Neither was she part of a coordinated enterprise involving various workers in the manufacture of products. Nevertheless, she was using similar equipment to dry and treat fabrics.
     Here’s what Wikipedia has for the term “Tenterhook”:
Tenterhooks are hooks in a device called a tenter. Tenters were originally large wooden frames which were used as far back as the 14th century in the process of making woollen cloth. After a piece of cloth was woven, it still contained oil from the fleece and some dirt. A craftsperson called a fuller (also called a tucker or wa[u]lker) cleaned the woollen cloth in a fulling mill, and then had to dry it carefully or the woollen fabric would shrink. To prevent this shrinkage, the fuller would place the wet cloth on a tenter, and leave it to dry outdoors. The lengths of wet cloth were stretched on the tenter (from Latin tendere, meaning "to stretch") using tenterhooks (hooked nails driven through the wood) all around the perimeter of the frame to which the cloth's edges (selvedges) were fixed, so that as it dried the cloth would retain its shape and size. In some manufacturing areas, entire tenter-fields, larger open spaces full of tenters, were once common.
Hanging and stretching on tenterhooks
     The term “stenter” is interesting:
n. A machine or apparatus for stretching or stentering muslins and other thin fabrics. Also called stenter-hook. To operate upon (thin cotton fabrics, as book-muslins, etc.) in a manner to impart to them a so-called elastic finish. 
     Essentially, “stenter” and “tenter” are synonyms.
     But what are the German terms for these gizmos and vocations?
     I have come across some German terms that might be useful here:
  • Textilreinigungsgewerbe: the textile cleaning trade 
  • Bügler: ironer, one who irons, one who removes wrinkles from clothes with an iron 
  • Näher: sewer, one who fastens with stitches; seamer, one who does needlework 
  • Textilreiniger: Textile cleaner (Source: here.) 
     Marthe seemed to be some kind of Textilreiniger, though I suspect the latter term normally arises in the context of firms with employees (in manufacturing) rather than individual contractors (in cleaning or maintenance). Though she might have done some ironing and sewing, it would be misleading to call her a Bügler or a Näher, I think. So what was her kind of tradesperson called?
     I have come across old U.S. patents for allegedly new and improved fabric dryers and stretchers (of the discrete kind that Marthe wielded). But none looks likethe sort of thing that Marthe evidently used.
     Well, that's all I've got for now.

The Schultz family, c. 1914. Marthe at far left; she and Else in "opera" outfits
UPDATE (6/28): 
     1. Ma tells me that her mother (Marthe) discontinued her vocation after the 1945 flight from Pommern and resettlement (in the west). Perhaps this was owing to the loss of equipment and materials (obviously, they could not take all that with them).
     2. Ma recalls that Marthe had an apprentice, a young woman. The apprentice had a brief affaire with Herr Hänfler.
     3. Yes, Marthe did lots of ironing at the house. That was a big part of her work. She did no sewing.
     4. Ma recalls three or so fine clothing stores in town (Bärwalde), all owned by Jewish families. She recalls in particular one Jewish woman who invited Marthe and Edith to some sort of closing party at the store. Evidently, they had managed to sell the store, and Marthe helped with preparations for turning the place over. Ma describes a party-like atmosphere on this farewell occasion. She says that the woman and her family left Barwalde soon thereafter, and it was all very “hush-hush.” (The other Jewish families who owned stores also left at about this time.) I pressed for clarification. Ma, who about nine or ten years old at the time, seemed to think that the family’s exodus from town was done quietly. “Who did they fear?” I asked. She wasn't sure. The authorities, I guess. Perhaps that Nazi family that lived in the top floor of her house, says Edith. I asked if the family left Bärwalde by train. “Oh, no, they couldn’t do that; they’d be found out,” she said. Ma is under the vague impression that the family moved to Switzerland. This would have occurred in about 1943—some time after Herr Hänfler’s death (in 1941). Once again, I noted that this date seems very late for Jews leaving the country or avoiding the camps. But Ma insists on this later date. Evidently, there were about three families with fine stores in town. After these families left, no decent clothing stores remained.
     5. I got some clarification about that article that was given to Edith as a gift at her baptism in 1934. It is cotton lace, and it is a long pouch-like thing intended for holding the documents of the baptism. We still have it, of course. It was made by that Jewish family in Bärwalde.
     6. Ma happened to mention also the time that she and Manny went to LA to visit an art museum. At some point, they wandered into a fine arts store and met the owners, an elderly Jewish couple. As it turns out, these people had lived in (and were born in) Stettin, as was Edith. The lady’s name was also Edith. These people and their family were successful in California. The son ran a store in Palm Springs. The woman encouraged Ma and Pa to connect with them again when in Palm Springs, but, somehow, that never happened. (Pa will remember the people’s names, says Ma.)
     7. I got Ma to describe the apartment that Hermann and Gertrud (her biological parents) had in Stettin “in Rosengarten” (Rosengarten seemed to be the name of a predominantly Jewish section of old Stettin). There were two entrances from the street. As one entered, the apartment was immediately at the right, on the first floor. But there were stairs to the top floor, also owned (or an apartment there was owned) by the family (the Schultzes). Ma remembers an old woman who lived near there. She was always very friendly to Edith and must have babysat Edith when she was little. Edith doesn’t know what happened to her.
     8. I asked about the apartment. It was small, two rooms with a kitchen in back. (This was the apartment in which Gertrud died in 1934.) From the back, one could see the back loading areas for stores, including a “Sears.” (I’ll see if I can find info about a Sears in Stettin.)
     9. Ma’s mother (Marthe) once told her that, when Gertrud was found dead, also found was some sort of instrument or device that likely caused the injury that killed Gertrud in a botched abortion. (Gertrud had been alone.) Marthe said “never to repeat this” but: the device was taken away and was not mentioned in the official report about the incident. Again, all very hush-hush.

Chemische Reinigung J. und C. Radigk, Osnabrück, G. Sander, 1920, 8,9 x 14 cm, 
(Medienzentrum Osnabrück) (See)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sifting through the "Wollin" death lists

Stettin is just to the south
Edith's mother (from Wollin)
     Familywise, on one side, Ma (Edith) is a SCHULTZ, a family that lived in and around Bärwalde, Pommern (a hundred miles east of Stettin). On the other side, she is a STERNKE, a family about which we know virtually nothing. The Sternkes also resided in Pommern, but in Wollin, the name of an island and a town north and across the harbor from the once-great city of Stettin (about 25 miles north; see map above). Wollin, until 1945, was part of Pomerania (Pommern), as were Stettin and Bärwalde, the two towns that figure prominently in Ma's wartime stories. (See map below.)
     I have attempted to research the Sternke family of Wollin before, but I've had little luck. Naturally, after the war, Wollin—and Pommern in general—was invaded by the Soviets and was eventually handed over to Poles, whom the Soviets had displaced earlier. Many records were destroyed or otherwise lost. That makes research difficult.
     Edith’s mother, Gertrud Sternke, was born in the town of Wollin (now "Wolin"), but when she married (Hermann Schultz of Bärwalde, Edith's father), she lived in old Stettin, where she died in 1934, likely from a botched abortion. Thus it was that Edith (b. 1933) ended up with the Hänflers of Bärwalde. (Marthe Hänfler was one of Hermann's older sisters and she had no children of her own.) Hermann died five years later in a freak workplace accident, also in Stettin. At that time, Edith's older sister, Ilse, was sent to live with another Schultz sister in Bärwalde—the one who committed suicide not long after the war's end. (See French kiss: the sad story of baby Peter.)

A picture I took from the road, just north of Wolin, 2011
* * *
     I found a site called -- which lists the wartime dead by city.
     There, under "Wollin," I found these entries:
 -Sternke, Karl, + Friedland [Preußisch Friedland? That is just to the east of Bärwalde]
     This is a record of a Karl Sternke dying during (or immediately after) the war. No date is provided. Evidently, he hailed from Pribbernow, a small town about ten miles to the southeast of Wollin. (See map.) Perhaps he was my grandmother's brother or cousin.
     In the section for Alt Sarnow—a town just south of Pribbernow (see map)—there is an entry for the July 1945 death of one Robert Bartelt:
-Bartelt, Robert, Altsitzer, 76 J., + 29.7.45 Völschendorf, Kr. Randow (im Treck) [Völschendorf is just northwest of Stettin].
     Ma’s mother’s mother's (i.e., my great grandmother's) married name was Luise Henriette Karoline Sternke, but she was born a BARTELT, and she hailed from Wollin. (See here.) Robert Bartelt could have been Gertrud’s cousin, I suppose.
     The note "im Treck" is interesting. I suppose it means that he died while traveling.
     The date is odd. Germany surrendered during late April and early May of 1945, but Robert died two months later, in July. It is possible, of course, that he died while being moved, along with other POWs or civilians, by the Soviets. Of course, many died at Soviet hands during this period. For many, it was by far the worst part of "the war." (See here.)
     I also found this under (the town) Pribbernow:
-Macheil, Elwine, geb. Bartelt, P., + 8.3.45 
     Ms. Macheil, né Bartelt, died in March of 1945, before the formal end of hostilities. (I’ve learned that the plus symbol refers to a death; the asterisk refers to a birth.)
     How or why we're not told.

Ma's world before the end of the war: Barwalde to the east, Stettin to the west--
A part of Germany that no longer exists. (See pink dots.)

Kathie has returned from Montana. She sent me these two photos she took there.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Who was "Oma Losa"? (And some Jewish history)

This detail of an old map of Bärwalde shows the proximity of "Oma Losa's"
lumber mill to the Hänfler household.
     A name that comes up a lot in Ma’s stories about her youth in Germany is “Oma Losa,” a close family friend.
     I should mention that “Losa” is simply my transliteration of the name Ma seems to be saying. (She pronounces it "low-zah.") I suppose that, if I had been more on the ball, I would transliterate it as “Lose,” since Germans usually use an “e” to indicate the “ah” sound at the end of a word (e.g., “Porsche,” “Ilse”).
      “Oma,” of course, is an informal title term, the German correlative to “granny” or “grandma.” But Oma Losa was not actually Edith’s grandmother. Rather, she was a family friend—evidently, she lived and worked across the street—and she was of the right age to count as an “Oma” to the likes of Edith, who was born in 1933. I’m guessing that she was born at about the time that Edith’s Tante Marthe (her adopted mother) was born: c. 1890. I’ll see if I can get a clearer sense of her age from Ma. (UPDATE: see comment below. Perhaps she was born c. 1870.)
     Here’s something I wrote about Oma Losa previously, in my account of Edith’s flight from the Soviets in 1945 (Edith flees to the west):
     Some of Edith’s relatives, including Oma Losa, didn’t make it out of Pommern [in 1945]. Later, Edith learned that the younger girls who remained behind—not Oma Losa, who was older, but virtually all of the younger women, including toddlers—were raped. That was the fate of Edith’s sister-in-law, Frida…. Frida was raped, but her husband was killed.
     Edith’s little group of refugees learned these terrible facts only later; they learned about the rapes and killings and about the burning of all the homes of the neighborhood; they learned, too, that all the younger people were forced by the Russians into work camps.
     For some reason, says Edith, after about two years, the Russians allowed Germans to leave [the occupied areas of Germany that were made a part of Poland], and so they did, traveling west. That was before the Wall had been erected to prevent emigration.
     During that exodus and before, people were scattered throughout the country and had no way to find each other….
     Edith remembers one day—this was years later, when she lived near Hamburg—coming home from work and noticing the smells of cooking wafting from her family’s small apartment. She was alarmed, for she knew that, at that moment, her mother and sister were elsewhere. When she entered, she was astonished to find that the mystery cook was none other than her Oma Losa!
     It’s clear that Oma Losa was very close to Tante Marthe [Ma’s adopted mother] and Ma's family. Ma seems to have had great affection for Losa. She’s never had anything negative to say about the woman.
     Today, I found some information from that might shed some light on the background and name of this “Oma Losa.” (See.) The site seems to provide family names associated with Bärwalde, Ma’s hometown in Pommern (nowadays, situated well inside the borders of Poland). So I looked for names that might be pronounced “Losa” (‘Low-zah). I found two:
1. LOOSE, Emil [born] 10.11.1919 in Bärwalde, Kreis Neustettin / Pommern, [died] 04.10.1943 in Borodajewka / Rußland [Presumably, Emil died on the Russian front—at age 23.]
2. LOOSE, Ludwig [died] 1941 in Bärwalde, Kreis Neustettin / Pommern 
     For Ludwig Loose, some notes are provided by a Mr. Karl Bornemann of Australia. (I could not find the name “Bornemann” on the list of "Bärwalde" names.) The information is that Ludwig Loose was a “Schneidemühlenbesitzer und Zimmermeister” – i.e., an owner of a sawmill and master carpenter.
     Evidently, he was born in Bad Polzin, not far from Bärwalde. (We stayed at Bad [Spa] Polzin when we visited Bärwalde in 2011.) So we know when Ludwig Loose died (1941) but not when he was born, though we know where he was born.
     The site indicates that Ludwig Loose was married to one “Ernestine N.N.” (I believe that “N.N.” is an abbreviation for “name hitherto unknown.”) Again, notes are provided by Karl Bornemann. According to him, Ernestine was first married to a N.N. [name unknown] Schulz, who died in Bärwalde in 1925. She later married again, this time to Ludwig Loose, probably in 1920.
     We are given this info about Ernestine: “1927 wohnhaft in Bärwalde, Bahnhofstr. 84 b Gestorben: [blank]”
     This seems to be saying, among other things, that Ernestine was living on Bahnhof Strasse (84b) in 1927. According to Ma’s recollections (and the info I’ve pieced together, looking at maps, etc.), Bahnhof Strasse is the short road dividing Oma Losa’s property—which comprised a lumber mill—and the northeast end of Bahnhof park (see map). Ma has always made clear that Oma Losa owned that property (and much more property in and around town) and that she was living alone (widowed perhaps).

This map provides the street names, including Bahnhof Strasse and Bublitzer Strasse
     And so it seems likely that Oma Losa was in fact Ernestine Loose, formerly Ernestine Schulz—we don’t have her maiden name, i.e., her name before taking Schulz. According to the information on the website, Herr Schulz (her first husband) had two children: Hans and Karl Schulz, about whom I have not yet found information, except that Ernestine was (likely) their mother. Ma remembers that Oma Losa had a daughter (in law) that lived on the other “end” of town (to the west, I think). Perhaps that daughter was married to either Hans or Karl Schulz (not to a Loose; she likely had no children with Herr Loose, and if she did, they would not likely have been old enough to be married by the 1940s, when Ma locates this recollection—but who knows).
     There are some mysteries here. First, the record seems to indicate that Ernestine married Loose in 1920—but Herr Schulz, her first husband, died in 1925. Is it possible that she divorced Schulz? That seems unlikely, for divorces were uncommon. But it’s possible, I suppose.
     Another mystery is Ernestine’s address in 1927: “Bahnhofstr. 84 b.” What is odd about that address is that Tante Marthe’s (i.e., the Hänfler household address) is also 84b—but on Bublitzer Strasse (Street), which runs perpendicular to Bahnhof Strasse. This is an unlikely coincidence, I think. But what does it mean?
     These records do not give Ernestine’s date of death, nor do they give her date of birth. We learn only that she was married to Schulz, who died in 1925, with whom she had two children (Hans & Karl); that she later married Herr Loose, who owned a lumber mill—the very one that “Oma Losa” owned; that her 2nd husband died in 1941—the same year that Herr Hänfler died (another coincidence)—and that she lived on the site of the lumber mill in 1927.
     My guess is that the facts about “Oma Losa” are these: She was in fact Ernestine Loose, who married Ludwig Loose in 1920. Ludwig owned a lumber mill—the very one that Ma remembers being run by “Oma Losa,” across the street from the Hänfler’s house. Oddly—relative to Edith’s picture of her early world—Oma Losa (i.e., Ernestine Loose) did not become a widow until 1941, the same year that Tante Marthe became a widow (when Otto Hänfler died of TB), an episode that Ma seems to remember well. You’d think that Edith would be aware of this crucial fact in Oma Losa’s life, but she is not.
     It seems that Oma Losa was very well off, at least in terms of land holdings. It is likely that she gained that status by marriage in 1920 (or perhaps later), when she married Ludwig Loose, a mill owner, after having been married to a Herr Schulz, with whom she had two children, Karl and Hans, who were likely adults by the 1940s. Also: it is possible that Tante Marthe and Oma Losa were not life-long friends, for they likely only got to know each other starting some time after 1920, when the latter married Herr Loose. Also: it seems likely that Marthe and Otto didn't move to Bärwalde until about 1930 or so, at which time they built a home, which later burned. (The home on 84b Bublitzer was built, likely on the same spot, in 1933. That building was burned, by the Soviet army, in 1945.) And so it is likely that Tante Marthe only got to know "Oma Losa" starting at about 1930.
     I’ll see if I can get any further info about “Oma Losa,” and perhaps some clarification of the above mysteries, from Ma.

Edith's bio father,
Hermann Schultz
(b. 1901; d. 1939)
     I spoke with Ma. I asked her for Oma Losa's age, but she gave a confused answer. She was about 50 in 1940, she said. How old was she when you reunited with her after the war? Answer: whe was about 80 in 1948. Well, that can't be right. (Note that Marthe was [Ma's bio father] Hermann Schultz's older sister; she was unable to have children and thus jumped at the chance of taking Edith upon Karl's death [in 1939]. She would have turned 50 in 1940.)
     I kept pressing and I feel somewhat confident that the older age is more correct. Ma says that Oma Losa always came around to give advice to Tante Marthe (Ma's "mother")—and she tended to do that with just about everyone around town. She was old enough (in 1940) to be considered an "Oma" by just about everybody. Certainly, she was old enough and connected/experienced enough to get Marthe's immediate attention when advice was offered. So I'm guessing that Oma Losa was a generation older than Marthe, which would mean a birthdate of around 1870.
     Ma reminds me that, during the flight from the Russians in 1945, Oma Losa's party departed late. Evidently, she gathered up all of her horses and took them down the road. But the Russians caught up and forced Losa to return, with horses, to Bärwalde. Evidently, Oma Losa remained in the area of Bärwalde, in some sort of camp, for about three years. After that, she somehow made her way to Westphalia. That became her second home. The story about coming home to dinner (above) involved a visit, by Losa, from Westphalia.
     Pa reminds me that German law placed many restrictions on adoption and that it was not possible for Otto Hänfler to adopt Ma, in 1939 or thereafter, owing to his TB. Hänfler was connected, and so, with the collaboration of various town authorities, the Hänflers created a de facto adoption of Edith. That came to grief in 1941 when Otto died. Again, there was a need to scramble to make Edith's continued residence with Marthe possible.
     Ma describes mysterious meetings of town authorities (elders?) in Herr Hänfler's den or office. Nazi officials were involved (there were always Nazi officials). She has no idea what these meeetings were about (she was about 8 years old when Hänfler died). She was always told to keep out of the room and to stay away.
     Again, Hänfler was very connected, had influence. As far as I know, he was an atheist and a socialist, and definitely not a Nazi. Ma remembers Marthe's efforts to keep her Otto from spouting off so much in ways unacceptable to the status quo (or some such thing). It seems likely that he got away with such spoutage owing to his very poor health. He was dying.
     When he died, his body posed serious practical problems, for he had a very contagious form of TB. Thus his body was kept at the house for many days. Ma underwent many rigors because of Otto's TB.
     Ma recalls playing with children who lived with Oma Losa. They were Losa's grandchildren. Her two sons were not called "Loose," but "Schulz" ("without the "t"), she says. Ma cannot remember ever knowing Oma Losa's forename or the name of her husband (who died in 1941). She has no recollection of the latter's death.
     Ma has no idea what became of Oma Losa. She lived in Westphalia and, as far as Ma knows, she died there of old age.

ALSO: I came across an interesting account of the history of the Jewish community in Bärwalde here:

Jewish community [in Barwice] before 1989 

(Note: “Barwice” is the current Polish name of the former Bärwalde, Pommern.)
 First Jews arrived in Barwice (then: Behrenwalde) probably in 1690 and there were six of them…. …Since 1800 the conditions of settling in Pomerania towns changed for the better. Due to this fact, in 1804 there were 15 Jews living in Barwice. Eight years later Barwice had 14 Jewish households. This number was growing due to the inflow of people from Eastern provinces, West Prussia and Poznań (Posen). In 1871 the Jewish community consisted of 152 members, in 1848-1874 there were 261 births, 62 marriages and 102 deaths, 70% of which were infants and babies. The list of names the Jews had taken on when settling in the town is contained in the book. The community officials changed quite often, but posts of teacher, cantor and butcher was held by one person all the time. In 1900 the community discontinued employing new officials as it was too small, also the cantor was brought only during celebrations. The list of the officials and the register of Jewish families living in Barwice in 1848-1874 can be found in the book. Among them were vendors and merchants, glaziers, teachers, inn owners, manufacturers, furrier, butcher, mender of kettles and a person who occupied himself with killing rats. Around 1800 the community amounted to 158 members to drop to 130 a decade later. In the 1890s Barwice had a Jewish charity organization (Ger. Vergeltung mit Guttaten, Liebesbeweis, Eng. Vengeance through Charity, a Proof of Love). In 1900 the number of Barwice population amounted to 2300, including 100 Jews who belonged to the Jewish community. In the following years the number dropped, by 1912 there were only 50 people of the Jewish origin. They made up 2% of the total population. The community budget fluctuated in those years between 1700 and 1900 marks, in 1913 it increased to 2138 marks. It was at that time that the community turned to Deutsch-Israelitischer Gemeindebund (German-Israelite Community League) for financial support of teaching that was customarily granted for such small communities (41 members). At that time six Jewish children attended school. After the war the number of community members decreased to 30 but it also included the Jews of Grünwald and Krosino (Groß Krössin). The difficult economic situation after the war also impacted on the community, its budget dropped to 300 marks. Two Jews from Barwice, Siegbert Bach and Kurt Jacks, died during WWI. From 1924 on the number of Jews in the town never rose. Despite the bad economic situation, in 1935 there were still Jewish shops and institutions, in 1935-1938 their owners were forced to sell or abandon the businesses. The list of Jews, including the six Jews living in Barwice or in the neighboring area in 1939, and the names of those deported to Berlin is contained in the book.