Childhood Memories

Mirrors

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.

…….

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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

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My best Friend

From an early age on Cordula 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 Bodo was born, Cordula had a little brother, who was given a name which according to Mum was very odd . His name was Tilwin. It turned out he grew up with very bright red hair. The children in the street teased him about his hair. Of course, Cordula would stand up for her brother as much as possible. For the most part I think Tilwin avoided playing with other children. However the children in the street still made rude remarks about his odd hair colour.

The apartment of Cordula’s family was above our third floor apartment, just two floors further up. I often went there by myself to play with Cordula. The family 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 . Cordula was allowed to look after her own little garden-bed.. Once Cordula’s mum let me have a portion of a little garden-bed too! Cordula’s Mum and Dad were always kind to me. They made me feel welcome and included.

The Lepsius 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 Lepsius family was quite odd because they had lived in the Middle East for a while. Cordula’s father was an architect. Mum called him ‘the Hunger Architect’ (Hungerleider) since he seemed to get hardly any work in his profession.

The Lepsius apartment was sparsely furnished . There were a great number of shelves stacked full with books. These shelves went from floor to ceiling. Mr. Lepsius 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.Lepsius 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. Lepsius 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 Lepsius had lived, when he was a boy.

Mr. Lepsius was old and bald. He was about twenty years older then his wife. Quite a few years later Cordula 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 Cordula hadn’t come down yet to go to school with me. I rang the bell. Mrs. Lepsius 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 Cordula 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 Cordula and Liselotte. 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. Cordula 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 Liselotte (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 going 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 fantasised 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

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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?

My Friend Eva

My Friend Eva

I did get to know her when I was forty and Eva was sixty-three. She died thirty years later. I was able to keep in touch with her right to the end. When Eva was nearly eighty, she moved to a hostel. Before that she had lived at home with her estranged husband and had frequent bouts of depression. She had wanted to separate from her husband for a long time. Her husband didn’t want to let her go. He also prevented her from getting an age pension. For years and years she was stranded not being able to buy anything for herself.

Finally, through the intervention of a caring social worker, she was able to get her age pension. Another caring person, namely a Catholic sister, who lived in the neighborhood, saw to it that she could move into the hostel. She was nearly eighty at the time.

For many years I visited Eva in her home. Whenever I visited we played several games of Scrabble. Even when Eva was in a depressive state, she always loved to play Scrabble! Once she had some pension money, she developed an interest in shopping again. When I took her out for a bit of shopping, she also liked to have a cup of coffee with me in a shopping center. Sometimes I took her to my place for some games of Scrabble and to have lunch with me and Peter.

After having moved to the hostel, Eva liked to be taken for visits to a hairdresser. She also started choosing with great care what to wear for the day. It was really important to her to look good! Sometimes I took her with me to visit some friends of mine. They were all fond of Eva. I was her confidante. I think I was probably the only person she liked to open up to. I saw her only about once a week or once a fortnight. She always liked to spend a few minutes to let me know what had been going on with her since I last saw her. She also never forgot to inquire about me and my family.

The hostel provided for outings in their community bus. In the beginning Eva had been keen on going to all these outings. However, as she got older she lost interest in it. There came a time when she just didn’t want to go out anymore. Even with me she wanted to go out less and less. She still liked playing Scrabble though whenever I visited her. I think it was when Eva was about ninety when she started losing interest in playing Scrabble. However right to the end she was always looking forward to my visits.

Eva died in 2005. I was seventy at the time. In 2007 I wrote an imaaginary story about my being in a hostel as an eighty-two year old. In five years from now I will be eighty-two! Hopefully my husband is still going to be alive by then and I won’t have the need for a place in a hostel. But what if? I plan on publishing this imaginary story that I wrote five years ago. I also have some photos of Eva. Maybe a couple of these I can soon publish as well.