The little girl watches her Mum and her Auntie, who both sit in front of the mirrors in Auntie’s bedroom. The room smells of lovely perfumes and lotions. The women are dressed in identical light grey suits. The younger woman is the girl’s mother, the slightly older looking one is the mother’s sister.
The girl thinks, that Auntie is the more beautiful looking woman with her very long curly hair. In the three way mirrors the girl can watch how Auntie brushes her hair. Her chestnut-coloured hair is very strong and long. Auntie is brushing it slightly back so it stays behind her ears, showing off her very long blue earrings.
Oh, I love these blue earrings, thinks the girl. How beautiful they look on Auntie’s ears! Mum does not wear any earrings, because her ears are covered by her hair. Mum’s brown hair is very fine and much shorter than Auntie’s. So is my hair: Very fine and short! thinks the girl. She wishes she could wear her hair longer!
Both women wear identical three big rolls of hair horizontally on top of their heads. The front rolls cover the top of their foreheads, the other two rolls are rolled along behind the front roll. With their suits the women wear identical light pink angora wool tops. The girl watches how the women check that the three rolls are set in the right position. Then they spray each other’s rolls with a lot of hairspray. They both look into the mirrors, smilingly. They are very pleased with the way they look and the little girl is pleased with them.
(I was that little girl in the mirror story!)
In the little picture Auntie Ilse wears some long earrings which I admired so much as a little girl. In the other picture Mum’s three rolls on top of her head are seen to perfection! I’m fourteen in the picture and I’m happy my hair is nice long. My brothers in the picture are ten and seven.
Mum called me often ‘Mausel’ or ‘Mauselchen’, whereas Auntie liked to call me ‘Herzchen’ or ‘Liebling’. Dad sometimes said ‘Herzel’ to me, but he usually called me by my name.
Mausel is derived from ‘Maus’ (mouse)
Herzchen is derived from Herz (heart)
Liebling means Darling
Herzel of course also means heart
My best Friend
I’ll just call her ‘Cora’ here. This is a short form of her real name.
From an early age on she was my best friend. Her mum told me one day that in Latin her name meant ‘heart’, but not to tell anyone: Some children might make fun of the name! I did not want anyone to make fun of my friend. So I promised myself to keep the meaning of the name to myself.
In 1939, the year after my brother Bob was born, Cora had a little brother, who was given a name which according to Mum was very odd . I’ll call him just TT here. It turned out he grew up with very bright red hair. The children in the street teased him about his hair. Of course, Cora would stand up for her brother as much as possible. For the most part I think TT avoided playing with other children. However the children in the street still made rude remarks about his odd hair colour.
The apartment of Cora’s family was above our third floor apartment, just two floors further up. I often went there by myself to play with Cora. They had a ‘roof-garden’ (Dach-Garten) above their apartment. It was about the size of their living-room, enclosed by walls and open to the sky. I remember how the sun came right into it. The floor was concrete and along the walls were garden-beds . Cora was allowed to look after her own little garden-bed.. Once Cora’s mum let me have a portion of a little garden-bed too! Cora’s Mum and Dad were always kind to me. They made me feel welcome and included.
The T family had food that no other family had. For snacks we children were often given some kind of brown flakes and raisins. Sometimes we were given dates or figs. I loved this food! Mum thought it was strange to eat such things. In Mum’s opinion the T family was quite odd because they had lived in the Middle East for a while. Cora’s father was an architect. Mum called him ‘the Hunger Architect’ (Hungerleider) since he seemed to get hardly any work in his profession.
The T apartment was sparsely furnished . There were a great number of shelves stacked full with books. These shelves went from floor to ceiling. Mr. T sometimes showed us books with colourful illustrations. He also told us stories. We loved one story in particular which had a funny ending. We demanded to be told this story again and again. Each time we laughed our heads off and Mr.T laughed with us. The story was about a beggar who knocked at the door of an apartment. A beautiful maid opened the door. Some time later the beggar knocked at another door in the neighbouring building. And the same beautiful maid opened the door! We found the astonishment of the beggar very funny. Mr. T explained to us, that the family had two connecting apartments across two buildings; that is, the wall between the buildings had been broken through to connect the apartments on that floor. This was actually where the family of Herr T had lived, when he was a boy.
Mr. T was old and bald. He was about twenty years older then his wife. Quite a few years later Cora and I went to the same high-school and we would always walk to school together. One morning I went up the stairs to see why Cora hadn’t come down yet to go to school with me. I rang the bell. Mrs. T opened the door. She was in tears. She did not let me come in but went with me to the top of the stairs. She said: Our father just died; I haven’t even told Cora yet. She looked at me with despair in her face and I did not know what to say. She hugged me and then she disappeared in her apartment.
At age thirteen my best friends were Cora and Lilo. We had formed a ‘circle’ and met each other several times a week. None of us had a boy-friend. That does not mean that we didn’t talk about what it would be like to experience romance. We felt talking about it was exciting.
One afternoon the three of us had our picture taken at a photographer’s. I still have this picture. Looking at this picture brings back memories how much at ease I felt then. Yet this Threesome lasted for a short time only. Cora had already lost her Dad. All of a sudden her Mum died too. How upsetting for her! She moved away to live with her aunts in West-Germany. The departure happened so quickly that there wasn’t time to say good-buy. I felt shocked about it. Yet I sensed that there had been a need for the sudden departure.
The blockade of West- Berlin followed and I was air-lifted to West-Germany to live with Dad and Aunty Lies and her family. When I returned to Berlin I had no idea how Lilo was doing because we had completely lost touch. She had left school in the meantime to take up a job. Quite by chance I once noticed her walking along the street arm in arm with a boy-friend. I cannot recall what she wore, but she looked very grown up to me. I never thought of approaching her.
I continued to go to the same girls’ high-school. Many girls in my class were talking about their boy-friends. I did not have a boy-friend and did not have a clue, how on earth I could ever get to know some-one from the opposite sex. I stuck to day-dreaming. In my mind I fantazised about romantic meetings: I loved making up conversations with an interesting young man!
I had hardly any money to spend on clothes or make-up. I felt very inferior to other girls, who all seemed to be better off.
Uta and her friends 1947
I liked to keep my hair long and just a little bit permed. I was astonished and gratified when a girl in my class said she liked my hair-style. </p
Some of today’s writing is reblogged and I did a bit of editing with it. I thought these different parts make sense if I put them together. Well, it’s writing by trial and error. I want to see whether it makes sense to any one. I’d love to get some input. Would this writing be of any interest to my descendants?