Anke's memories of her father
My father was a quiet, good natured man. He didn't talk much. His garden was his passion. When he came home from work in the evening, he always made a little trip to the garden. When I was younger he rode out on his bike, but later he had a little blue Fiat to make his trips to the Schrebergarten.
He always brought home fruit and vegetables, and the house was adorned with fresh flowers from his garden. The shelves in the basement were laden with canned fruit, vegetables and fruit juice.
I remember how much Peter and Achim liked the fresh fruit juice and on one occasion Achim drank a whole bottle of fermented juice. We didn't notice until he told us "I like this, it has a lot of bubbles". We had a drunk little boy on our hands.
We usually had a beef or pork roast for Sunday dinner and Vati made the best gravy. We ate in the living room on Sunday and the whole family sat around the big dinning room table, which was in the middle of the room at that time. Once we got our dad to talk about the war, and he was in the middle of a story when we spotted flames coming from the kitchen. The roast had caught on fire, and everybody ran to put out the flames. Our father said, "I don't think I am supposed to talk about those times" and we never heard another war story.
Vati could build or repair just about anything. He was also a great shoe repair man. He even fixed our fancy high heels. This saved us kids a lot of money and we were able to spend it on more important items... like lipstick and make up.
My parents came to the United States twice and Vati really liked to go to the supermarket. He would walk to the nearest market and carry all the bags home. Once, even a watermelon, but usually a lot of goodies for the kids and himself, he loved sweets.
Vati could not sit still, he was always in motion. Barry made him a list of things to do around the house (in case he was looking for something to do), and by evening everything was done. The list was supposed to last for the whole visit, but... Vati was a lot of help, and we were happy to have him around.
I remember going to the Huntington Library and Vati was very impressed with the cactus garden. I think it was the size of the cactuses, all very large... in Germany most people cultivated cactus in a small dish on the window sill. We had a lot of fun on these visits with our parents and I believe that was the time I got to know my father, he was very talkative and full of humor.
I remember that Vati spoiled our mother, "Ja, Mutti" he would say, and do whatever her heart desired. I believe that our parents set a great example for us children, and without knowing, we picked husbands with the same qualities as our dad.
Vati was a heavy smoker, and I think this was partly responsible for his early death. I remember one of my sisters telling me, his last words were "the cigarettes girls".
There are a lot more good stories I will add in the future.