I was seventeen, when a nineteen year old guy, who was in his final year of schooling, showed an interest in me. The way he talked and looked at me, I could not help but fall in love with him! We were friends for a few weeks, when my mother found out, his father owned a small flower-shop. In my mother’s eyes this made him some-one of very low standing and definitely not suited for me as a companion. My mother decided, she wanted to see the father in his flower-shop and made me go along with her.
The flower-shop turned out to be very small indeed. The whole family was gathered in the shop, when we arrived. There was the congenial looking father, who was of small stature. The mother was a tallish woman. I imagined her to be very resolute and practical in every way. I knew, that she was my friend’s step-mother. His mother had died, when he had been at a very young age. He had shown me a picture of her. He did remember her quite well and missed her very much! The photo showed a young, extremely friendly and beautiful looking woman. I could understand, how a boy would be fascinated by those soft features. The step-mother turned out to have rather harsh features. There was also a step-sister, a spindly looking girl of about ten. When she heard, what was going on, she said full of ‘Schadenfreude’: ‘Ah. so W . . . . has been telling fibs again!’
Then W was called out. When he appeared from behind the shop, he looked small and embarassed, letting his head hang from having a bad conscience. I felt very embarrassed for him. Talking to the father, my mother made sure, that we two young people were never allowed to see each other again. The father said a few soothing words to me, trying to comfort me. He urged me, that it was for the best, if I listened to my mother.
I trotted back home with Mum, feeling very, very sad indeed. For the next few months my only friend remained my schoolfriend E H. Her father was Dr. H. He was a boss at TELEFUNKEN, E lived around the corner and I was allowed to visit her at night-time, whenever I felt like it. I also went on a few outings with her.
A few months later, aged eighteen, I started work. Then in the spring of 1953 I met another guy, who I thought was very likeable indeed. When a year had passed, since I had seen W, I met him once more. He had done his ‘Abitur’ in the meantime and found employment in some office near Kurfürstendamm. He was telling me about Fax- machines, which he had to use.
When I told him about my new friend, he must have sensed, that I was not really interested in a friendship with him anymore, feeling already too attached to the other guy. We parted as good friends. However we agreed, it would be interesting to see each other again at the same place, which was the Bayrischer Platz, exactly ten years later, on the 30th June 1963. But by that time I was already married with three children and living in Australia. Needless to say, I never saw him again.
I left high-school at intermediate level in the summer of 1950. Thereafter I lost contact with all my girl-friends, who went on to high-school to the end of year thirteen to get the ‘Abitur’, which would qualify them for university entrance. My choice was to continue higher education at a commercial school, which hopefully would qualify me for a secretarial position.
The best thing at that school was, that we read Goethe’s Faust. I was therefore able to get good marks in German. English was a good subject for me too. However in all the commercial subjects I was extremely unsatisfactory.
One day our class-teacher, Herr Gluschke, had had enough and talked to me under four eyes. ‘How come ‘, he said, ‘that you are good in all subjects, the other teachers teach, and in all the subjects that I teach, you’re far from good?’
What did I answer? Did I say, that the other subjects interested me more? Did I tell him, I found it hard to work anything out on a counting machine because I felt I needed a lot more practice on it? Or that I had problems remembering the required wording in answer to a set question, when we were not allowed to take notes in his classes and when we had no books whatsoever on the subjects he was teaching? I don’t know, what I answered him.
No wonder I was dead scared of the final exams. Rather than finish the second year of commercial schooling, I applied for a job which would enable me to get familiar with secretarial work. I looked up advertised jobs. In one of the ads they offered two beginners’ jobs for office work. Later I found out, that there were ninety-five applicants for these two very lowly paid jobs! And I was the extremely lucky person, who ended up with one of the two jobs!
Herr Gluschke, on hearing that I wanted to leave school and start working, happily wished me all the best for the future! I started work in the clearing house of FLEUROP/INTERFLORA on the second of January 1953 and stayed with that company for the best part of five years.
At the commercial school I had made only one close friendl: E H. And E did not finish school either. Her father, who was an executive at TELEFUNKEN, had seen to it, that she could start work for TELEFUNKEN in Spain.
Apart from some commercial English, we had also learned a bit of commercial Spanish at school, which came in handy for E. Of course in Spain it did not take her long to speak and write Spanish fluently. She became friends with a Spanish guy called Jesus. So E stayed on in Spain and I missed her. We kept writing each other for a while. I also saw her, when she came back to Berlin to visit her parents.
I also missed that guy, who’s father owned a small flower-shop. He had been telling me such wonderful stories! He also played songs on the piano. I loved it when he played the song about the lonely soldier at the river Wolga. He also knew some naughty songs. But I told him, I wasn’t so keen on those. He accepted that gracefully.
His name was W . . .. I called him ‘Wölfi’: he called me ‘Schäfchen’. Schäfchen means ‘little sheep’. Of course, he only called me that, when no-one else was around. ‘Schäfchen’, he said it lovingly and understandingly, and I didn’t object! I must say, as compared to him, I really felt like a ‘Schäfchen’. He told me, he earned some pocket money as a piano-player in night-bars. So he must have been well aware of what was going on at night-time in a big city.
Students in their final year of high-school, that is the thirteenth year of schooling (after having started at around six), those students in their final year were called ‘Abiturienten’. So W was an ‘Abiturient’, when I met him at a Spanish evening class. I had joined that class of the Workers’ Education to catch up on Spanish, for I felt the few hours of schooling at my school were not sufficent to get a proper footing in the language. Come to think of it, there would not have been a reason for W to join that class, for Spanish was not required at his school. He was interested in travel though. Maybe that is why he wanted to learn some Spanish.
It was the spring of 1952 I was seventeen and a half at the time and W was nineteen. When I told him, I had already learned a bit of Spanish at school, he asked me, could I help him with his Spanish. This showed me, that he was interested in getting to know me. He was allowed to visit me at my home. We still had a piano at the time. I loved it, when he played the piano.
Sunday nights I was supposed to sell news-papers. One Sunday night I skipped it, because I wanted to stay with W. That was a mistake, because Mum found out about it. She was outraged about my behaviour and started making inquiries about him. Something did not seem right to her. She had begun to smell a rat! And yes, she was right. W had been telling me and Mum quite a lot of fibs, For one, he did not want to admit, that his father was only a small shopkeeper. He thought, if Frau Dr. Spickermann knew about that, she would never agree to her daughter going out with him! So he told us stories about a rich aunt, who was his patron and who took him on travels to Italy and America. It was of course all phantasy! Naturally Mum thought, he could not be trusted anymore. There was not a thing in the world I could have done to change her mind. I still had feelings for him, but I had to suppress them.
I had started selling Sunday night newspapers at age fifteen. I needed a special permission from the police to do it, since fifteen year olds were not supposed to work late at night. But since I was nearly sixteen and looked much older anyway, I had no problem in getting permission to do it. I had to sell ‘Die Nachtausgabe des Montags-Echos’ (the night-edition of the Monday-Echo). It earned me a bit of pocket-money. Occasionally people would think I was a university student who was badly in need of money. These people would give me a generous tip, sometimes a five Mark note! Once a class-mate saw me selling papers in front of a cinema. I felt extremely embarassed that my class-mate had seen me selling papers. It was not the done thing for school-students to sell papers. University-students did it all the time, but not school-students.
When I started office work later on, I was paid an extremely low salary, Never the less, from then on I quit selling papers.