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Friday, June 5, 2009

Who Are You: Chapter 3 - The "Inbetween Times"

First of all, permit me an OMG, because this blog just picked up another follower: "Rockie", right? THANKS!

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Okay, just to re-cap: I was born in 1949 to a German mother and an American (soldier) father.

With me so far, right?

Okay, here we go with a "mish-mash" of what I remember of my "growing up" years in Germany.

First off, we travelled a lot.

My Dad (because of the job he had in the Army) kept getting re-assigned, and sometimes me and my Mom could go, but sometimes we couldn't.

One of those times, (before my brother was born) my mother got really sick. I think it was a kind of pneumonia, but in those years, pneumonia could really kick your ass, and that is what happened to her. It really laid her out, and because my Dad was so busy, it was decided that I go to my Oma's (German slang for "Grandmother") for a while. I was 8 then.

My Oma lived in Zeitz, East Germany (which used to be known as the DDR, because it was on the "other side" of the Berlin Wall....) in those days, and she was poor, my friends. My Oma Helene needed another mouth to feed like she needed a hole in her head.

She already had 6 children and no husband (I'll talk about him later) and now she was getting me to take care of.

I remember my Oma as such a diminutive woman - so tiny, yet so strong!

For a meager wage, she scrubbed down the bakery next door to the courtyard we lived in. On her hands and knees. And when I say "on her hands and knees" I mean just that!

As a "perk". my Omi would get to take home that day's unsold rolls (known to us as "Weck") and occasionally, such delicacies as "Quark-Taschen", which I can only suggest to you as "Danisches" only a thousand times better-tasting.

Here is how dinner at my Omi's went:

Ready? This isn't going to be pretty.....

All of us kids went out to beg for whatever we could get.

If we couldn't beg for it, we'd steal it (more about that later, as well).

The Russian soldiers (East Germany, remember?) treated us kids very well, and always handed us bread ("Kleb") through the fence whenever we showed up.

Then came the pig.

Pork was "cheap eatin'" in those days, and we ate everything from the "squeal to the tail". My personal favorite were the feet.

But wait... there's more!

When I wrote "from the squeal to the tail", I didn't mean we just ate the meat!

Oh, no! We sucked the marrow out of the bones as well.

If we had an apple for desert, that apple got cut up into pieces and when we finished with that bad boy, all that was left were those seeds.

And yes, they did get planted.

I got the measles while with my Oma, and a Russian doctor took care of me, in return for my aunt Christa sleeping with him. I remember him coming to the "apartment" in the courtyard and them both going into a "private" room together.

We did what we needed to, to survive.

Then when the sun went down, we went to bed. There was no electricity. We could not afford it - so "dark", meant "bed".

It also meant rats.

I had to get used to them crawling across my chest, sweeping them off and cowering under my blanket in fear. I squeezed my eyes shut tight and waited for morning.

By now, you must be asking yourselves, "What about your Dad, Bill?"

My Dad (God love him) was just never "around" when he needed to be. His life was the Army and me and my Mom just got in the way of all that.

Caveat: At that time. When we moved to the US in 1960, he took his role as a father much more seriously.

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More to come. Stay with me, okay?

Don't forget the animals! Click to feed and then please click to vote!

Here's the link:

The Animal Rescue Site


And here's a song from my childhood:



I love you little shits! HA!

Bill

2 comments:

Mike said...

Bill,

I haven't read Ch 1 & 2, just read three today. WOW! Listening to you it sounds you were more accepting than angry about misadventure that might have been averted, which suggests wonderful strength of character.

I will look for and read Chs 1 & 2.

I had this thought in reading 3. Do you believe your experience of this adversity in life as reported along with any other prepared you in a better way to accept the severe adversity of your present circumstance.

Any way around the block, my hat's off to you sir!!!

Mike

Bill Craig said...

Mike,

It was a way of life. We either begged, borrowed or stole, or we didn't eat. We thought of sustenance, and yes, we knew it was wrong, but in post-World War II East Germany (Behind the "Iron Curtain") you did what you had to do to make it.

Did the adversity of that way of life prepare me for the Alzheimer's?

I don't know, Mike.

Those years "toughened me up", I guess, but there's no "work-around" for dementia. There's nothing I can use or do to compensate for that kind of loss except take medicines and hope for a cure.

In other words, there's nothing I can steal from someone else to make this better. And I wouldn't anyway.

Thanks for your comments and question, my friend.

Bill