“We are to consider some of the practices of a virile race of some five hundred millions of people who have an unimpaired inheritance moving with the momentum acquired through four thousand years; a people morally and intellectually strong, mechanically capable, who are awakening to a utilization of all the possibilities which science and invention during recent years have brought to western nations; and a people who have long dearly loved peace but who can and will fight in self defense if compelled to do so.
We had long desired to stand face to face with Chinese and Japanese farmers; to walk through their fields and to learn by seeing some of their methods, appliances and practices which centuries of stress and experience have led these oldest farmers in the world to adopt. We desired to learn how it is possible, after twenty…
This is most upsetting! Did they tell me, they’d have to access our (my) property again? No, they did not! Why could they not talk to me about it? I don’t get it what they were thinking.
Well, what I am thinking is, that I am just too emotional. If Peter were here, he would say, it is no big deal, there is no need for me to upset myself so much.
Could they have arranged for access from the back? Of course they could have! I wonder when the rest of all the cooperate back fences is being done, whether then miraculously it is going to be possible to access council property to dispose of the old wooden fence and store all the material for the new fences!
The workers who just started their work here are very friendly and promised they would not leave any rubbish behind on our (my) property. I hope they’ll be able to stick to their promise!
The bloke who did put up our back fence some 17 months ago as an insurance job after storm damage to our back fence, did a job that was just rediculous. The workers, that are here today, laughed their heads off, when they looked at it. So why did it take 17 months to try rectify this shoddy work? Well, ask the Strata managers! That this extremely crooked part of the fence had so far not been fallen down in the wind, that is absolutely astounding!
My Paternal Grandparents lived in Lodz, They were Josef Alexander and Hulda Spickermann and celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in November 1943. All their children with all their spouses and most of the grandchildren were present. Josef and Hulda had three daughters and three sons: Olga, Jenny, Elisabeth (Lies) and Edmund (E), Alexander (Oleg) and Ludwig (Luttek). I have a picture of the Golden Wedding with everyone in it. Here it is:
My father was the second son of Josef and Hulda. He married my mother, Irma Charlotte Summerer, on the 30th of September 1930. My mother was only nineteen at the time. Four years later, on the 21st of September 1934, I was born. In June of 1935 my parents travelled with me to Lodz (Poland) to visit Dad’s family there. My mother and I, we did not have our own passports. We were included in Dad’s passport as can be seen in the following picture.
1927 in Lodz: This is a picture of Dad’s sisters Olga, Jenny and Elisabeth:
In the above picture I am in the pram with my cousin Horst. There are also cousins George and Gerd, the sons of Tante Olga as well as cousin Ursula, the daughter of Tante Jenny. (Olga and Jenny were of course the older sisters of my father.) The picture is taken in the park of the Häuslers, Horst’s parents.
As far as I know we stayed in Lodz with Tante Lies (Elisabeth) and Onkel Alfred. I have several pictures that show me with their son Horst who was born on the 7th of February 1935. Tante Lies was about the same age as my mother. Whereas Onkel Alred was twenty years older than his wife. He owned huge properties. We always thought they were rich.
When I was six weeks old the grandparents, Hulda and Josef, came to Berlin for a visit, where they saw me for the first time. They were proud to have a grandchild by one of their sons. (Their other two sons did not have any children yet at the time). I think my twenty-three year old mother looks very pretty in that picture.
On the 9th of June 1938 my brother Bodo Alexander was born. He was born at home in our apartment in Berlin, Bozener Strasse. Here in this picture he is only a few hours old. I was thrilled to have a baby brother! I believed the ‘Klapperstorch’ had brought him. Mum’s sister Ilse was very excited about this addition to the family as well. Later on I always heard stories about how this home delivery took place. And I did sleep through all of it. When I woke up in the morning, Tante Ilse led me to the cot in the parent’s bedroom. And surprise, surprise, der Klapperstorch had brought a beautiful baby boy. There he was lying in the cot!
Here I am with Opa Spickermann at the ‘Reichssportfeld’ in June 1938 soon after the birth of brother Bodo. It was a time when Mum still had to stay in bed. Tante Ilse and her husband Adolf Schlinke owned a ‘Wanderer’ car. In that they drove Dad, Opa and me to the Reichssportfeld for an outing. Probably so Opa could see a bit of Berlin. Presumably he had come all the way from Lodz to Berlin to see his first born grandson by the name of Spickermann.
Dad, Granddad, Tante Ilse and little Uta, (I guess, Onkel Addi took the picture.)
The following is a reflectionon my parents. Their marriage their frequent separations, their divorce, how they related to us children, their interests, their friends or partners, Dad’s second marriage.
When I was about fifteen, Mum introduced ‘Bambi’ into our lives. ‘Bambi’ was Herr Burghoff aka Tomscick. Of course only Mum called him ‘Bambi’. To us children he was ‘Herr Burghoff’. We did not have any problem with this. Later on I found out that Dad had a problem with calling him by his adopted new name. Dad insisted on calling him ‘Tomscick’.
Here is a conversation I had with Dad when I was about eighteen:
It was June 1953. I was on a one week leave from FLEUROP and had used this, my very first vacation, to visit Dad in Düsseldorf.
‘The boys told me that Tomscik never shared his supper with you children,’ said Dad.
‘Don’t worry, Dad,’ was my response. ‘We never wanted Herr Burghoff to act as our Dad. I thought it was perfectly all right that he bought “Abendbrot” only for himself and Mum. At the time he was still studying and didn’t have much money. Maybe it would have been different had he already been employed in the Public Service.’
‘And what is this, that he wants to marry Mum?’ asked Dad.
‘Well, it’s true, he wanted to marry her. You know, that as a Catholic he was not allowed to marry a divorced woman. That’s why they asked the Pope for special permission. It took a while, but they did get it in the end.’
‘Yea, by declaring the marriage invalid and my children bastards,’ screamed Dad.
‘I know, they established that she married under pressure of her mother and sister Ilse. They claim, she didn’t really know what she was getting into when she married you.’
Dad looked extremely upset. ‘That’s absolute nonsense!’ he shouted.
I felt very sorry for Dad. ‘Anyway, Dad, it seems Mum’s not going to marry him after all. Tante Ilse says so.’
‘And why would that be? What could possibly be a reason for not marrying him now?’
‘The reason? According to Tante Ilse there are several reasons. You know, Herr Burghoff is now employed here in a town in the Rheinland. That is Mum would have to move away from Berlin, if she wanted to live with him. And you know what Mum’s like: She just does not want to leave Berlin!’
Dad nodded. He knew all about this: Mum had always refused to leave Berlin to live with him.
‘ And Tante Ilse told me something else. She said when Mum went to his new place for a visit, she noticed him praying a lot. At least twice a day he would fall on his knees praying in front of a statue. It was kind of acceptable for Mum to go with him to Sunday Mass in Berlin. But apparently she can’t stand all this praying at home. Tante Ilse thinks it was just too much for her to see him do this. Indeed, it must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back!’
Mum actually never re-married. An acquaintance of Mum’s helped her to acquire a permanent job in the Berlin Rathaus (Council Building). She worked there till she turned 65. She could have stopped working earlier, however she knew her pension would increase if she worked to age 65. She lived for her twice yearly vacations. She always saved up for these vacations to go on wonderful holiday trips. On one of these trips she met a widower who was keen on marrying her. Years later she once told me, she chose not to marry him. He was elderly and she was too scared he might eventually need nursing care. The thought of having to nurse someone in old age just didn’t appeal to her. She thought she deserved to have the opportunity to still have a bit of fun in life. On each holiday she took lots of photos and meticulously preserved them in photo albums. She also wrote a few comments for every trip. There are some records in her recollections about two very elegant men who invited her for dinner. These men turned out to be homosexuals who greatly enjoyed the company of a well groomed presentable lady. And apparently she enjoyed being invited and appreciated. She told me she was glad that none of them expected any sexual favours from her.
Dad was actually thinking of re-marrying Mum once he was back in secure employment. As far as I know he did ask her and she refused. Apparently she had no desire at all to get back together with him. I remember Dad did ask me at the time whether I thought it would be better for us children if he re-married our mother. Well, I must admit, I did not think so at the time. I just could not imagine the two of them being civil to each other after all the hostilities that had been going on between them for many years. I think I was eighteen when this question came up. When I was younger I would so much have loved to be living with two parents under the one roof. At eighteen I had overcome these feelings of deprivation of not having two parents around all the time. Should I have thought more about my two younger brothers? Maybe Mum would have mellowed and been able to put up with Dad for the sake of the boys who definitely would have needed a father – – – –
I don’t know whether Mum would have paid any attention to what I could have been saying. I always had the feeling I could not talk to Mum about these feelings. It was very different with Dad. He always wanted to hear my opinion on everything.
Anyhow as it turned out I left old Germany a few years later with my husband and two young children. Dad was quite devastated to see us leaving. He had become so attached to his first born granddaughter Gaby. She gave him such great joy! We were soon well and truly settled in Australia. We felt Australia was for our young family much better than Germany. We never regretted having left Germany behind.
Dad’s secretary, Frau Kusche, was a war-widow. She came from Lodz in Poland the same as my Dad. She had raised a son and a daughter as a war-widow. I had seen Frau Kusche only once briefly at the office. I later heard her 28 year old son who was married and also had a little son, this 28 year old was suffering from terminal cancer. Before he died he was witness at the marriage of his sister who had been an air-hostess and was marrying an American. My father, who had married Frau Kusche in the meantime, was also present at the wedding, together with his new wife of course.
Frau Kusche’s first name starts with G. Dad had a few good years with her towards the end of his life. He too, sadly died of cancer when he was only 62. He and G made a few visits to America to see G’s daughter there. They had also planned to come and visit us in Australia. Sadly, this never eventuated. G. was looking after Dad when he was terminally ill. It took a lot out of her. But she recovered eventually. She’s still alive and well now, being in her nineties, her daughter-in-law keeping an eye on her.
On the 28th of January the following was in one of my replies:
Right now, here too it’s raining a lot: Temperature is still around 20C though. Yesterday, before the rain started, Monika came along with all of her four grandchildren (my great-grandchildren!) and we went for a walk with them to the playground at the back near the grassy soccer fields and near all the beautiful trees. The kids were full of beans. It was cloudy and not very hot. I think last Tuesday, we had about 40C. This would not have been a good day to take the kids on such a walk. Strangely enough, yesterday, we were the only people roaming about, walking along the footpath, then across all these grassy areas, and having fun at the playground. Very strange indeed. We had the whole place to ourselves! So, isn’t that lucky, that we had such a good time before the rain started? From next week Lucas, 8, and Alexander, 6, are going to be back at school again. Lucas and Alexander are the cousins of Carter, 4, and Evie (16 months). The two little ones just love to be with their ‘big’ cousins, and the older cousins love to look after the little ones! It reminds me of my early childhood when I was so very fond of my older cousins. Evie is already a good walker and also tries to talk a lot!
My son, Martin, shares his dog, Millie, with his neighbour on a permanent basis. By the way, I am in luck, Martin is planning to visit me! He wants to leave Benalla on Sunday. I hope he can stay for at least a week, and I hope, that the borders wont close again. Martin is probably bringing Millie along again. I am looking forward to that!
Martin did actually come to visit! He arrived here in Dapto last Sunday, the 31st of January. Today he and Millie left early in the morning to go back to their home in Benalla. However, I am in luck again: Martin is going to be back here in about four weeks, with Millie of course! So this is then in March and they might stay for a bit over a week. And then I’ll go with them for a visit to Benalla. I am very much looking forward to that! The reason why Martin is coming here again, is, that we are invited to a wedding on Saturday, the 13th of March, that is, one of my granddaughters is getting married! Peter wanted to go to that wedding too. But alas, he could not stay alive for that long anymore. Rest in peace, dear husband. We’ll be thinking of you!
Right now, at 4 am, I feel like I want to do a bit of reflecting. I must say, that yesterday, throughout the day, I became somewhat anxious. Then everything changed just by making time for a game of Scrabble with Martin. This game was something we could both enjoy a lot.
It is great to have my son Martin here for a few days. I better refrain from thinking that I may be running out of time. Why not just enjoy every moment the way it is? And enjoying having Millie, Martin’s cute dog, around!
I feel, waking up early this morning was a blessing. It helped me to reflect on my present situation. Indeed, it seems to help me to get rid of diverse anxieties. I can only say: How good is it to be still alive! So, I am looking forward to today being able to spending again some more precious time with Martin.
Good article. I agree with everything in it. I hope that in future more and more people are going to adopt healthier lifestyles! I mean, it is well known what makes a healthy lifestyle. People need lots of encouragement and motivation to live up to it. To reach this motivation may be rather difficult for some people. Still, you can only try your best to change things. We do need farmers, but we also need doctors to promote healthier lifestyles and who can help us, when we get sick. After all, even with a healthy lifestyle one might get sick or injured sometimes and end up needing the care of the medical profession!
The pandemic’s toll is further proof that we’re eating ourselves sick.
Before the coronavirus hit in early 2020, a quieter epidemic was already taking its toll across the United States: the near-universal prevalence of diet-related maladies. More than half of the calories Americans consume come from “ultraprocessed” foods that are shot through with added sugars and fats and are associated with weight gain. Pile those on top of our sedentary lifestyle, and the result is that almost 90 percent of adults have a sign of metabolic dysfunction—including high blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar—and more than 40 percent are obese. In the pandemic’s first five months, the US had a 39 percent higher mortality rate than Europe, where the obesity rate is half ours.
This mess made us vulnerable to the worst aspects of the coronavirus: In the first…
Two waterworks employees manually cleaning the rainwater sewers under Hohenstaufenstraße in Berlin-Schöneberg, 1930). Image via Berliner Wasserbetriebe.
It was a rainy morning in Berlin today so here’s a rain-related fact: did you know that Berlin‘s rainwater sewer system measures 3,300 km? That is approximately the distance between the German capital and the ancient city of Luxor in Egypt.
The stormwater sewers are not the only elements of the underground sewerage system protecting the city from the consequences of excessive rainfall. Berlin can also rely on its 1,900 km of mixed sewers (the older canals, mostly located in the city centre, transporting both household waste water and rainwater when necessary). No to mention the subterranean storage spaces where in case of heavy rains (not unusual in Berlin during the last decade) where the water can be held and subsequently transported to purification stations, instead of allowing it to…
Image from a Dutch magazine “Het Leven” (via Spaarnestadt Archive).
Here is a typical Berlin Balkonia, little man’s and woman’s green paradise, in its rooftop edition: as a small garden and a chicken-pen.
This model example of self-sufficiency was necessary to survive dire food-shortages of the First World War – shortages which were particularly acute in the capital and led to long periods of starvation not only among the poorest. Many Berlin children did not survive those and if they did, they often suffered their consequences – mentally and health-wise – for the rest of their lives.
This idyllic image is a witness to a very bitter truth: that unless you were able to provide your own food yourself, your family was in danger. And that in 99% of the cases this responsibility had to be shouldered by women – whose children were at great risk.